December 8, 2021

Former Ohio State Coaches Honored As Greatest of the Century


Related Links: CSCAA Release

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) unveiled its list of 100 Greatest College Swimming & Diving Coaches of the past 100 years on Tuesday, with six former Buckeye coaches and student-athletes named to the distinguished list.

Ohio State head coaches honored include Mike Peppe (1931-62), Ron O’Brien (1965-78) and Vince Panzano (1978-2013). Former assistant coach Jess Book, who was on the Buckeye staff from 2008-10 and is now the head coach at Kenyon, as well as former student-athletes James Counsilman and Hoble Billingsley, who worked alongside each other at Indiana, were also named to the list.

Mike Peppe

Peppe served as the head coach of Ohio State from 1931-62 and was the university’s first swimming and diving coach. During his tenure, he led the Buckeyes to 11 national championships, 12 Big Ten Championships and 10 NAAU championships. The program won its first national championship in 1943 and went on to finish top two at the national championship meet 17 times with Peppe at the helm and finished undefeated in duals 12 times.

Peppe’s student-athletes won 313 individual and relay championships and 19 of them were named to Olympic teams. At the 1947 and 1956 NCAA championships, Ohio State divers under Peppe’s tutelage swept the boards.

Ron O’Brien

O’Brien was the head diving coach at Ohio State from 1965-78. He coached seven student-athletes to national championships in his 13-year tenure directing the Buckeyes. In addition to his time with Ohio State, he served as a coach for the U.S. Olympic diving team at five consecutive Olympic Games between 1968 and 1988. Within his first 25 years of coaching, his divers won 154 gold, 90 silver and 78 bronze medals in major Olympic, world, national, NCAA and Big Ten Conference diving championships. In all but five of his 30 years as a coach, he produced a U.S. national champion.

O’Brien’s career at Ohio State started before becoming a coach, as he was a letterwinner for the Buckeyes’ diving team. He won the 1959 NCAA championship on the 1-meter springboard and the 1961 3-meter AAU national championship.

Vince Panzano

Panzano coached 12 NCAA champions, 23 U.S. national champions and 59 Big Ten champions in his 35-year tenure as the Ohio State diving coach from 1978 to 2013. Over his career at Ohio State, he was named the Big Ten Diving Coach of the Year 10 times, selected NCAA Diving Coach of the Year four times and was twice awarded the Mike Peppe Award. In his over 40 years as a Division I coach, Panzano has produced one world champion, one junior world champion, two Olympic medalists, 23 U.S. diving champions, 13 NCAA champions, 17 NCAA runners-up, 59 Big Ten champions and 92 All-Americans.

In 2007, he guided the Buckeyes to a historical feat when his men’s divers established a never-before honor of having three different divers sweep the three diving events: Kellen Harkness won the three-meter springboard, Burkley Showe took first on the 1-meter board and Wes Wieser won on the 10-meter platform. It was the first time a school has swept the three diving events since 1996 and the first time that the sweep was completed by three different athletes from the same school.