Swimming icon Dick Bower dies at 83

Legendary New Orleans swimming coach Dick Bower died Sunday in Houston after complications from a stroke, according to a Tulane news release. Bower was 83.

A top coach at every level, Bower coached Tulane for eight seasons (1970-77), posting an 85-36 record. In Bower’s final season, 1976-77, the Green Wave won five consecutive meets victories and posted a top finish at the Metro-7 Swimming Championships.

After his career at Tulane, Bower founded the New Orleans USS Swim Club Team BOLTS and led the squad to 38 Louisiana state swimming championships. He also coached high school programs at St. Martin’s and De La Salle. Bower won a national high school coach of the year honor and received multiple coach of the year awards in Louisiana. Olympian Ashley Tappin was one of Bower’s star swimmers with the BOLTS and St. Martin’s.

Bower was honored with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to collegiate, scholastic and United States Swimming in 2009.

“Coach Bower always had such a presence,” said Crawfish Aquatics Chief Executive Officer Shelly Ripple Johnston. “I remember him wearing a blue shirt and white shorts and rattling off split times at meets. He could remember splits and times from years ago anyone else would forget.

“And he was innovative. He developed aerobic sets that coaches use today. He was known and respected by coaches across the country.”

Bower and his wife, Barbara, relocated to The Woodlands, Texas, following damage to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

According to SwimmingWorldMagazine.com, Bower’s daughter, Alice, is organizing a memorial service in New Orleans. It is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend in September to coincide with the annual ASCA World Clinic.

Before coming to Louisiana, Bower organized and coached teams in Jamestown, N.Y., Bethel Park, Pa., Brandon, Fla., and Pittsburgh. From 1960-66, he coached Bethel Park (Pa.) High School to a 92-8 record.

In 1966, Bower was associated with the Greater Pittsburgh Swim Club and his athletes compiled a 64-0 record. The club had not won a meet before Bower took over.