Coach Pete

Expert advice for Swimmers, Triathletes, and Coaches

Interview with Coach Bill Spahn Head Coach of the Fort Collins Area Swim Team (FAST)


Bill Spahn, former Head Coach at the University of New Mexico, joined FAST as the Head Coach in April of 2005. Bill coached both the men’s and women’s teams at UNM for 23 years with a great deal of success, including several All-Americans. He also had the pleasure of coaching Tom Jager, who at the time was the world champion in the 50 free and 400 free relay, the world-record holder in the 50 free, and a gold and bronze medalist at the 1992 Olympics. Bill coaches the Senior and Pre-Senior groups (email:

1. What motivated you to become a swim coach? I started
out as a school teacher after graduating from college and
after one month I found out that I needed to find another
job to implement my teaching salary. I thought if I
needed to work another job it might as well be doing
something that I might like. As a former swimmer, I
thought that maybe I could coach (I had experience
coaching a summer country club team). I was able to start
a team at a YMCA along with teaching lessons, etc. That
was the beginning of a 44 yr. and still going career.
2. What has been your most rewarding coaching experience?
No one experience. Many, many things but all involve
working with and being around kids of all ages. I began
my career as a club coach and 13 years later became a
college coach and then 28 years after that a club coach
again. So I have worked with boys, girls, and young
adults of all ages.
3. What was the highest level of swimmer you have coached?
I coached Tom Jager for almost 6 years and was his coach
when he set the American Record in 50 yd. free that lasted
from 1990 to 2005 and also the World Record in 50 mtr.
free that lasted from 1991- 2000. Tom also made
1992 Olympic team and was 3rd in 50 and 1st in 400 free
relay that set world record. Tom had other significant
achievements while I was his coach. Also coached Ron Neugent
who made honorary 1980 Olympic team in the 1500.
4. What is your greatest asset in conveying your message
to your swimmers?
I think that I have been a pretty good
role model and I think that in itself helps in conveying
messages to swimmers.
5. What do you feel was your worst experience in
Having had a successful men’s program dropped
(University of New Mexico 1999).
6. What was your most memorable moment in coaching? Had a swimmer swim under bulkhead into empty lane on the last 25 of a race at 1972 sc national championships in Dallas,
Texas. He was entered in the race but didn’t swim it as we
didn’t think he would meet qual. time (back then you had
to prove qual. time after race if time wasn’t met). This
could never be done now but the story of the “phantom
breaststroker” lasted years and years and is still talked
about on occasion. The swimmer involved remains today as
one of my closest friends.
7. What are your goals for the future of swimming? Don’t
really know as I am on the short end of my career and
really have a small impact on swimming right now. I just
want to improve the program that I am in charge of right
now and hope that when I finally retire I might have made
a difference to this club.
8. What was your most humorist moment in coaching? See
question 6
9. What do you love most about coaching? Working with
kids and watching them reach goals no matter how small.
10. What would you have been if you were not a swim
Probably would have continued teaching and been
retired for good by now!!!

February 16, 2008 Posted by | Coaches | Leave a comment