Sports

Miller shares expertise with NWAC athletes

Bob Miller - Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times
Bob Miller
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

Bob Miller’s email address starts “retiredcoachbob.” Don’t believe it.

Miller, cork-like, keeps popping up at swimming pools. Several months ago he was hired as an assistant coach for the North Whidbey Aquatic Club. This week he became the interim head coach.

When Miller, 84, accepted the NWAC assistant coach position, he came out of retirement – for the second time.

“When you retire, there are about three hours in the day with nothing to do,” Miller said. His boredom was a boon for the North Whidbey Aquatic Club. Miller is an elite coach and swimmer.

Among his many awards and achievements, Miller was chosen the American Swim Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 1973. In 1975, he coached the USA men’s and women’s Pan American teams. A year later he coached the USA national team in a showdown with the Soviet Union.

He also coached numerous Olympic and world championship medalists as well as national and world record setters. In recognition of these achievements, Miller was inducted into Pacific Northwest Swimming’s Hall of Fame in 2004 with the first class of honorees.

Miller began his coaching career at 16 while attending West Seattle High School. He convinced the Seattle School District to allow him to put together a group of swimmers to compete in the state high-school meet. Eventually he opened several pools in the Seattle area and started the Cascade Swim Club. He coached eight years in Fort Lauderdale and then Oregon before returning to Washington.

Growing up he was more than a swimmer. As a teenager he had a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitcher. They invited him to a second tryout in Oregon, but he declined because it conflicted with -- what else -- a swim meet.

He first "retired" in 2002, then jumped back into coaching for the Bainbridge Island Swim Club in 2004. He retired for a second time in 2010.

As a competitor, Miller captained the University of Washington swim team in the early ‘50s. In 1956 he was a member of the silver-medal team that placed second in the pentathlon at the Melbourne Olympics. He was the Pan American pentathlon individual champion in 1958. Miller continues to swim five days a week, going 2,000 to 3,000 meters each day, and compete. Last year he set a national age-group record in the 200 backstroke.

Miller said the NWAC swimmers were "very disciplined" and "fun to work with." However, the Aquajets won't have long to work with the award-winning Miller. He announced recently he will be returning to Arizona next month to give retirement another try.

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