Longtime Seminole coach retires

Haight steps down as coach after 24 years at the school.

Published May 23, 2007

Seminole's Tom Haight stood where Dave Paul stood nearly a quarter-century earlier. A legend taking his leave.

Haight, who coached one of the county's cornerstone boys and girls swim programs, announced he was stepping down as coach after 24 years at the school.

Haight's decision - a few months in the making, by his account - was less a matter of physical condition than it was opportune timing.

"You always hear stories of coaches retiring because of a physical ailment or something like that, " Haight said. "That's not it. I just decided this was the right time in my life to do this."

He said he will continue to teach business law at Seminole. A timetable has not been set for his replacement.

"I never wanted to be someone who retires from teaching and coaching at the same time, " Haight said. "I will still be at school. But I won't be meddling. I'll serve more as a mentor for the swimmers."

Few transitions were as smooth as the one from Paul to Haight.

Paul exited after leading the Warhawk girls to a state runnerup finish in 1982.

Haight kept things going with a run that is virtually unmatched. His combined record with the boys and girls is 400-57-2.

The highlight came in 1985 when the girls team won the state title. The captain of that team was Lisa Bitting, now the swim coach at Palm Harbor University.

"I had some big shoes to fill, " Haight said. "But I also had some great swimmers along the way."

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@sptimes.com or 727 445-4169.