Back in the 1970s, the University of Tennessee Swimming and Diving team was a force to be reckoned with in the SEC. The force behind the VOLS swimming program was Coach Ray Bussard.
Coach Bussard was not a swimmer, but he understood the sport, and college swimming, and how to win at the college level.
A sprinter’s a sprinter, and a sprinter and a sprinter and a sprinter. A sprinter can sprint all strokes.
— Ray Bussard
Ray Bussard also had a flare for theatrics and understood branding decades before the word “branding” became a marketing buzz term. UT Swimmers did wear and became known for those coonskin caps, and they ran through a massive orange T at the start of all home meets. Coach Bussard felt swimming should adopt the pizazz football had long enjoyed, and while the VOLS swim team was under his command, swimming shined bright and big and orange.
Coach Bussard’s Tennessee VOLS won the NCAA Championship in 1978. He served on Team USA’s coaching staff at the 1979 and 1983 Pan Am Games and the 1984 Olympic Games. He was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) in 1999.