Swimmers Reunite After 50 Years to Compete, Recall Coach
By Lauren Brown
Back in the 1960s, the Naval Academy was to Terps swimmers what Duke was to generations of basketball fans: the foe they loved to hate. In the 1966–67 meet between the two, to mark what could become Coach Bill Campbell’s 100th victorious meet, his squad unfurled a banner congratulating him on the win—before the competition had begun.
“It was fantastic,” recalls Doug Springer ’69. “And we beat them four times in four years.”
It was 50 years ago this fall that many in this prank-loving crew met, and they and other Terp swimmers are reuniting starting Aug. 13 at the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championship at the Eppley Recreation Center. Springer, Neil Salkind ’69, Ph.D. ’73, David J. Diehl ’74, Chuck W. Berke ’74, Joe Reid ’70, Bruce Phillips ’69 and Charles Hoffman ’62 (who later replaced Campbell) are all planning to compete.
Returning to campus to mark their golden anniversary is only part of the reason this quartet and former diver Jack Jordon ’69 are coming from as far as Arizona and Kansas. They also want to honor Campbell, the associate professor of kinesiology who founded the Terps swimming and diving program and ran it from 1955–76, winning seven ACC titles in the process. A second father to hundreds of Maryland athletes, he died in April at age 90.
“He was smart. He was flexible. He was understanding,” Salkind says. “He would take in people in need of support financially, emotionally and otherwise. He was such a good role model.”
Salkind remembers showing up at the old 25-yard pool at the former Cole Field House on the first Sunday of freshman year and meeting a bunch of other swimmers. They had nothing else in common, not academic interests, backgrounds, religions or home states, which ranged from Connecticut to New Mexico.
They became fast friends, though, and roomed in different combinations in the residence halls and the Reckord Armory before getting an apartment on Riggs Road. They partied when they didn’t have a swim meet coming up, and struggled to keep their GPAs up so they could keep swimming. To make ends meet, they sold concessions at basketball and football games, and ironed on “new” meal plan decals at registration.
The team won the ACC championship three times under Campbell—all in the 1960s—and had several members compete at nationals and one at the Olympics. “We were not the best,” Salkind says, “but we were to be reckoned with.”
The swimmers turned to the coach whenever their campus antics got them in hot water—Campbell “knew a lot of judges,” laughs his daughter, Patti Bayly ’75. He had swimmers at his family’s Thanksgiving table every year, and he even arranged a deal (in lieu of scholarships) for his “tankmen” to dorm in the armory and other houses on campus in exchange for them doing janitor duty on campus.
But he took no guff, either. Before a meet against North Carolina, a few Terp swimmers “found it necessary to remove some of the football team’s gear from their lockers,” Salkind says. Campbell’s Irish temper flared, he says, and upon returning to College Park, he ordered them to return it immediately.
Amid all the joking, though, these were unsettled times—Springer recalls smelling tear gas from protests while he swam laps inside in 1968. When the guys earned their degrees, they scattered: Jordan enlisted in the Marines. Springer and Salkind got married, and the latter went off to earn graduate degrees. They all went on to start careers and raise families, and who had time for swimming or hunting down old college buddies?
Springer has been coaching for a half-century—he spent two years under Campbell while teaching before moving onto a long tenure as an executive director with the YMCA—but he and Salkind didn’t start swimming seriously again until about 20 years ago. This Masters competition will be the first time a few of them have connected since 1969, and they intend to place in the top 10.
They never forgot Campbell, exchanging letters (and in Springer’s case, a cowboy hat bought at a 1966 meet at the Air Force Academy) and visiting him when they passed through town.
A half-century after arriving at Maryland, Neil Salkind ’69 (left) and Doug Springer ’69 remain competitive swimmers.
A couple of them last saw him six years ago at an alumni meet where they competed against the current team. Even then, Bayly recalls, her dad still wanted his guys to win.
“They killed us—what a surprise,” Salkind says. “But all we had to do was point up at the (ACC) banners. It’s hard to stop being competitive.”
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