July 27, 2012

Brooks Retires After 41 Years as Diving Coach

NEW LONDON, Conn.--Bob Brooks has announced his retirement as the diving coach at the Coast Guard Academy after 41 years.

Brooks, who was inducted into the Coast Guard Academy Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005, was a mainstay with the swimming and diving program under head coaches Charlie Dennis and John Westkott during his time at the Academy.

"Coach Brooks has made a foundational impact on the swimming and diving program here at the Academy. I have had great comfort in his guiding of the cadets-athletes who dove for him," said Westkott. "His ability to relate to young people and motivate them is extraordinary. The loyalty he has shown for the program and more importantly the Academy is inspiring. I am going to miss having Coach as a colleague on a daily basis."

He was born and raised in New London. As a child, Brooks swam at the YMCA in New London in the 1930's where he learned tumbling and balancing and basic jumps off a board and later performed as a diver in a weekly free show at Ocean Beach Park in 1941.

Brooks, a World War II veteran, was the 1943 Connecticut AAU Diving Champion both the one and three-meter boards and coached at Fitch High School for 18 years in the 1960's and '70's before joining Coach Dennis at the Academy.

During his time at the Academy Brooks coached 17 New England Finalists, nine NCAA qualifiers and five NCAA All-Americans and in 1998 he had five divers place in the top ten at the ECAC Championships. "It was amazing to me to see with all the academic and military work the cadets had, but the top performers still put in enough time to get to the NCAA Championship," said Brooks.

Brooks coached cadet-athletes who have graduated and had successful careers as commanding officers of ships and stations and even coached flag officers.

"I never had a son of my own, so these were all my boys and most recently I had the chance to coach some women today with the addition of the women's team," said Brooks. "Each one was a character in his own right and it's been great to see what they have accomplished since leaving the Academy."

Coach Brooks talks about many stories from his days which began at the New London YMCA in the 30's to his 40 years coaching at the Academy with a smile on his face and recalls the details like they were yesterday. He touched many young men and women's lives at the Coast Guard Academy.

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