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Team's new coach to maintain tradition

© St. Petersburg Times
published July 7, 2002

BRANDON -- Although he has 25 years of experience coaching and training swimmers, Bud Bowden, 47, is the new kid on the block as the coach of the Brandon Swim and Tennis Club's Blue Wave.

Bowden is filling the shoes of Peter Banks, an assistant coach for the Irish and U.S. Olympic teams. Banks is now coaching in Fort Lauderdale.

However, Bowden is not new to the Blue Wave system. He was an assistant of Banks' for nearly five years and plans to continue many of the programs already in place.

"Peter is a friend and set some good standards we still use," Bowden said. "The Blue Wave program has been here around 40 years and we have had only Brooke Bennett as an Olympic gold medalist, so those swimmers are rare. But we do have some great young swimmers coming up and who knows?"

Before joining the Brandon Swim and Tennis Club staff, Bowden coached the swim team at the Walden Lakes Country Club in Plant City and the Bartow Imperial Flyers team.

He competed as a youth swimmer until the age of 13, when he focused his athletic skills on football. That earned him a scholarship to the University of Florida, where he played for the Gators under coach Doug Dickey.

Bowden has been a faculty member at Plant City High for more than 20 years as a driver's education teacher. He has also coached football and swimming for the Raiders.

Although Banks established a tradition that includes Olympic and world championships, Bowden said he feels no pressure to accomplish the same things.

"I plan to carry on what Peter established, but swimmers like Bennett and Maritza Correa (an Olympic trials qualifier) don't come along every day. To work to that level requires dedication by both athletes and parents that goes far beyond the normal. We have some exceptional youngsters, but only time will tell."

Many of the swimmers Bowden inherits have already qualified for national meets.

The sectional qualifiers include:

Brittany Fabry, 16, primarily a freestyle distance swimmer but versatile against high-level competition in all strokes.

Katie Bowden, 18, is a Durant graduate and freshman at the University of South Carolina who is also a freestyle swimmer in all distances.

Kristen Norton, 15, is a sprinter in freestyle and the 100 butterfly.

Chelsea Woodcock, 15, primarily concentrates on the breaststroke, but also competes in the 200 and 400 individual medley.

Brittany Legal, 13, is another versatile swimmer doing all freestyle events, plus the 100 and 200 butterfly.

Stephanie Tarr, 17, specializes in the butterfly, plus the 100 and 200 individual medley.

The Southeastern Sectionals are scheduled for July 24-28 in Fort Lauderdale.

"Basically, I work two full-time jobs as a teacher at Plant City and swim coach at Brandon Swim and Tennis Club," Bowden said. "As long as I am coaching the Blue Wave, I will do everything I can to maintain the high level of professionalism expected here at Brandon Swim and Tennis Club. I enjoy working with the kids."

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