Bill Bachrach (USA)

Honor Coach (1966)

The information on this page was written the year of their induction.

FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: U.S. Olympic coach (1924, 1928); Coached the Illinois Athletic Club; His swimmers and divers won every Men’s National AAU Championship event in 1914; His swimmers won 120 National AAU championships.

The late Bill Bachrach was heavyweight champion of swimming coaches both on his record of the most winning team (Illinois Athletic Club), most winning swimmer (Johnny Weissmuller) and actual weight (300 lbs.).  Bachrach is the only coach whose swimmers and divers won every Men’s National AAU championship event in one year (1914).  He coached two winning U.S. Olympic teams.

Weissmuller tells the story of how the “Great Bach” would pay Johnny a quarter to push him up the Fairmount Hill in San Francisco, then make him get in the pool and “kick a mile” because all that pushing is bad for the legs.  At the Illinois Athletic Club, Bach coached the world’s greatest swimmers–Jam Handy, Harry Hebner, Swede Jensen, Turk McDermott, Perry McGillivray, Norman Ross, Ollie Horn, Bob Skelton, Al Swartz, Johnny Weissmuller, Arne Borg, Buck Samson, Stubby Kruger, Sybil Bauer, Ethel Lackie and many others.  His swimmers won 120 National AAU Championships.  “Bach” was either first or second father to them all.

Bachrach stories are legion.  He carried his money in gold pieces in a money belt circling his enormous girth.  He coached his swimmers to pull and push through to the hip when everybody else was using a half stroke.  He kept his coaching a mystery from other coaches and often led them astray.

Psychologically, he handled each swimmer differently, talked to them alone.  On one all-star team, Turk McDermott had to be made mad before a race and Perry McGillibray had to be calmed down. Harry Hebner had to have a team situation to worry about.  Weissmuller and Borg had to be kept from beating each other so “Bach” could have two stars on  one team.  And regardless of how good they were, Bach had room for no prima donnas, as he was the star.