Husky Swimming Celebrates 75 Years

Sept. 26, 2007

SEATTLE - It has been 75 years since the University of Washington founded a swimming team, and since that time many great swimmers have come and gone. Olympians such as Jack Medica, Rick DeMont, Doug Northway, Robin Backhaus, Barbie Mitchell, and the brother and sister tandem of Rick and Lynn Colella all have donned the purple and gold, while legendary coaches such as Jack Torney and Earl Ellis have led their Husky teams to greatness. This past Saturday, former and current Husky swimmers and coaches, along with fans and parents, celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Husky swimming.

An estimated 250 guests attended the celebration, which followed the team's annual intersquad meet, only this year there was a different flavor to it as former Husky swimmers were invited to swim in the meet. Husky alums from as far back as the class of 1952 took part in the event.

'It was a tremendous event,' said UW head coach Whitney Hite, who is now in his second season. 'It was fun to see some alumni come back and put our kids on the edge a little bit, because the kids had to make sure they beat the alums.'

Among the previous Husky swimmers that jumped at the chance to swim in the meet was Bill Patterson, who was a three-time All-American for UW in 1978. Patterson is the father of current Husky swimmers Genevieve and Mary Patterson, and competed against his two daughters in the 100 individual medley on Saturday. Youth won out, though, as the younger Patterson's got the best of their father.

Even with a different tone to this year's intersquad meet, Hite said his teams accomplished a great deal, and it gave him and his staff a chance to evaluate the swimmers in a competitive environment.

'The meet was a great opportunity to see where we are at fitness wise and racing wise,' commented Hite. 'I don't believe you can race to much. The sooner we start racing, the sooner we can identify the things that we need to work on.'

Following the meet, a celebration party was held on campus at the Don James Center. Among those giving speeches were Dick Jochums, who has coached numerous Olympians and is recognized as one of the top swimming coaches in the world, and Ellis, who amassed a 215-45 record during his 29 years as the head men's coach at UW, in addition to his 203-27-2 record in 23 seasons at the helm of the UW women's program.

'Saturday was a great time for Husky swimming,' said Hite. 'Having Dick Jochums talk, and having Earl Ellis there - I was just humbled and honored to be a part of it.'

'It was great to hear the stories that were told. As I've said in the past, what you do in the pool is important, but this event reminds us of what it's all about, which is the friendships and stories that are made.'

The Huskies open the 2007-08 season next Friday, Oct. 5, when they host Seattle University at noon at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.