I was saddened Saturday morning to learn that former Western Boone swimming and diving head coach Duane Swisher had been killed in a bicycle accident in Fountain County.
In my five years at the Lebanon Reporter, I have had the pleasure of working with numerous great coaches and people. Swisher was one of the ones that stood out though.
I cannot remember a single time that I interviewed or talked to the man when he wasn’t smiling and upbeat.
Even when his Stars swimming teams had lost, or a team had struggled through an early season practice, Swisher would answer every question I had about the team and how he really liked the direction the team was headed and how hard the kids were working.
His coaching resume was impressive, compiling more than 400 dual meet wins in his 30-year career in charge of the Western Boone and South Vermillion programs. His teams won seven sectional titles.
With Swisher, it was never about him and his accolades — it was all about the students.
I will never forget when Swisher achieved his 400th dual meet win, on Jan. 26, 2012, against Lebanon.
While I knew at that time Swisher had been at Western Boone for a long time, I wasn’t aware he was approaching such a milestone.
After the meet, which saw the Western Boone boys win for victory No. 400, I conducted my normal interview with Swisher. As we were walking out of Lebanon’s pool, Swisher just said “if you want to make note of it, today was my 400th career win.”
Needless to say the interview got extended.
”It is kind of exciting,” Swisher said that day. “You don’t plan for that, but when it happens you make note of it and it is something that is an accomplishment you have to be proud of.”
I remember then asking Swisher if anything stood out from his career — a specific team or swimmer or diver — that he was most proud of.
His answer to that question showed the kind of coach and teacher Swisher was.
”We have had some great kids, great swimmers, but more importantly great people,” Swisher said. “Turning those kids into great adults that go out into the world and contribute is the most rewarding part.”
Swisher was a person who took his role as a teacher seriously. And you can see from the outpouring of messages on social media sites, that his students enjoyed him as a teacher and role model.
While the news is incredibly sad, some solace can be taken in the fact that Swisher was doing something that he loved when he passed away.
And you can almost guarantee that he had a smile on his face while doing it.
And while he passed away too soon, it is important to remember the good times with the coach, teacher, colleague and friend who helped shape so many students’ lives.
You were a good one Coach Swisher, and you will be missed.