COLUMBUS, Ohio – Former Ohio State men’s swimming coach Bill Wadley has passed away, the Ohio State Department of Athletics learned on Tuesday. Wadley, who retired following the 2016-17 season, served as the head coach of the men’s swimming program for 28 years.
Regarded as one of the most experienced and respected mentors in the world of competitive swimming, Wadley led the Buckeyes through three decades and to 11 consecutive top 20 NCAA finishes in the latter half of his career at Ohio State. In 2010, he coached the team to its first Big Ten title in 54 years and consequently earned the distinction of 2010 Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year.
“Our Ohio State swimming and diving family are grieving the loss of Coach Bill Wadley,” Ohio State director of swimming and diving Bill Dorenkott said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Gail, and his two sons, Brian and Michael. Coach Wadley left an indelible mark on all those who were fortunate enough to spend time on a pool deck with him. He was a coach, friend, peer and mentor to countless individuals who he inspired in his over four decades in the sport. Bill was so proud of being a Buckeye. He loved the university and his greatest joy was the young men he coached and the amazing things they have done after graduating from Ohio State. Last week, we were able to spend some time together reminiscing. His smile was wide as he recalled cherished memories. There is no doubt in my mind that his heart was full.”
“Coach Wadley spent close to 30 years serving the collegiate and international swimming community and he cared deeply about the sport of swimming and all that it provided student-athletes, as well as the benefits of higher education,” senior associate director of athletics for sport administration T.J. Shelton said. “He was even more passionate about teaching youth in the community to learn to swim through programs that he created. He poured his heart and soul into creating a championship culture within the program and cared deeply about the success of his athletes in the classroom even more than in the pool.”
The winningest coach in Ohio State men’s swimming history with a record of 253-42 (.858), Wadley coached the Buckeyes to 30 Big Ten event titles and helped 16 student-athletes to the Olympic Games during his tenure. Under his tutelage, Ohio State men’s swimmers achieved 22 All-America awards while 63 swimmers earned honorable mention All-America accolades.
Not only did Wadley’s student-athletes produce success in the pool, but in the classroom as well. Over 150 of his student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors and 20 garnered Big Ten Distinguished Scholar awards.
Wadley, in addition to his role at Ohio State, served as the technical swimming chairman for the International University Sports Federation (FISU), president of the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) and as an ASCA board member.
Besides his experience at the collegiate level, Wadley coached for the United States on numerous occasions. His national team career started with the 1986 Olympic Festival and continued with the 1988 and 1992 Gold Medal teams comprised of top non-collegiate swimmers in preparation for the Olympics. In 1991, Wadley coached the U.S. team at the World University Games and in 1993 he coached the U.S. National Team training camp. In 1998, he served as the head men’s coach for the Goodwill Games and then worked as an assistant coach for USA Swimming for the World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand in 2009. He also served as an assistant for Team USA in the 2011 Duel in the Pool.