Remembering Doc Counsilman
Swimming scientist and ISHOF honor coach
James E. Counsilman (1920-2004) died on January 4, 2004 at the age of 83. "Doc" was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Coach in 1976. The following text was included in the program for the induction ceremony of that year:
The Record: U.S. Olympic coach 1964 and 1976. Captain and NCAA champion swimmer on Ohio State's national championship teams, 1946-47. Assistant coach Illinois (1948) and Iowa (1948-52). Coach, Cortland State (1952-58) won 35, lost four. Indiana (1958 to date) 15 consecutive Big Ten crowns (1961-76). Six consecutive NCAA team titles (1968-72). Fifteen undefeated dual meet seasons in 19 years. Through 1974 and still going: 106 individual NCAA records, eight Pan-Am records, 52 world records, 154 American records since 1960, 62 NCAA, 79 Indoor and 60 Outdoor AAU, 11 Pan-Am and 21 Olympic gold medals. President, ASCA and founding president of the ISHOF.
At 58 Doc Counsilman became the oldest man to swim the English Channel in 1979.
Six times a "Doc" Counsilman, Indiana swimmer, has been named "World Swimmer of the Year". His book, "The Science of Swimming", is THE text beside which all other swim books are judged. An innovator and motivator, Counsilman has been the gospel from the scientific swimming application of stroke films, interval training, isotonic exercise, Bernoulli's Principle and hypoxic conditioning on down through the psychological lift of "hurt, pain, agony" and jelly beans; whatever specific new approach will stimulate coaches and motivate their swimmers to work harder this year. His leadership, prestige and persuasion were critical factors in the emergence of both the American Swimming Coaches Association and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Not bad for a swimmer who started at the East St. Louis YMCA.
The Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming is named after James E. "Doc" Counsilman and honors his seminal work in developing the science of swimming.