John “Jock” Coombs and Robert Ley are the 2011-12 inductees into the Maine Swimming Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame dinner will be held Saturday at the Green Ladle in Lewiston.
Coombs learned to swim at the Bangor YMCA and received instruction from Betty Solorzano, a 2004 Hall of Fame inductee. Coombs competed for the Bangor YMCA, Bangor High School, and Springfield College.
At Springfield College, Coombs earned All-American recognition and was twice voted Springfield’s Outstanding Student Athlete. He was the school record holder in the 200 individual medley.
Coombs entered Springfield following a distinguished career at Bangor High School. As a senior for coach Phil Emery’s Rams, he set state and state meet-records in the 200 individual medley and a state-meet record in the 100 freestyle.
At the New England Interscholastic Championship, Coombs tied for first in the 100 free, but was awarded second through a judges’ decision. He also rewrote the 200 IM state and state-meet records and claimed the silver medal in the event at New Englands in his junior year.
As a sophomore, Coombs was a member of Bangor’s New England championship team of 1974-75 and the New England gold-medal, record-setting 400 free relay team. He also established state and state-meet records in the 200 and 500 free. He began his racing career at the Bangor YMCA on a team coached by Fred Pierce and competed successfully in a variety of events and distances during his age-group competitions. Coombs resides in New York.
Portland’s Ley swam for numerous Portland area age-group teams during an outstanding career, setting 24 individual age-group records. Undefeated in Maine interscholastic racing, Ley
competed for Portland-based high schools Deering and Cheverus.
Recognized as a two-time high school All-American breaststroker, Ley was voted in 1992 the Maine Swimmer of the Year.
He also attended the Peddie School in New Jersey. For one year, Ley trained and raced at Indian River Community College and won the National Junior College title in the 200 individual medley and was a member of the gold-medal medley relays, 200 and 400.
Following his year at Indian River, Ley attended West Virginia University where he was a finalist at the Atlantic 10 championships and then following WVU’s move to the Big East, Ley competed and was a finalist at the Big East championship. He resides in Nebraska.
This year the Hall of Fame also will recognize the contributions to swimming by the late John Coombs of the Bangor YMCA. Coombs, father of Jock Coombs, was one of the founders of the Maine YMCA Swim League and served as the first league commissioner, a position he held for 23 years until his death in 1983.
The annual Maine YMCA swim championships, held in March at the University of Maine, are known as the John W. Coombs Memorial YMCA Swim Championships.
Capitani to coach at Texas
The University of Texas has named Carol Capitani as head women’s coach. Capitani joins Texas from the University of Georgia where she has served as associate head men’s and women’s swimming coach.
The Bulldogs won four NCAA titles and finished second seven times during her tenure. A graduate of the University of California where she swam, Capitani also coached in the Big East at Villanova and has served in various coaching capacities on national teams. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in English.
Morales’ record falls
Interesting news recently from Mission Viejo, Calif., one of the nation’s elite swimming programs. In the 100 meter butterfly at the Meet of Championships, the 26-year-old record held by Pablo Morales was recently eclipsed by Tom Shields, one of America’s premier butterfly and backstroke racers.
Shields has won NCAA titles in both butterfly and backstroke. His 52.9 100-meter butterfly rewrote Morales’ 53.3, the standard for 26 years. Morales, who swam for Stanford, won 11 individual NCAA titles and remains the all-time leading scorer at an NCAA championship meet with 235 points.
Morales raced in the Olympics in 1984 and 1992, claiming three gold medals and two silver. His world record in the 100-meter butterfly stood for nine years, 1986-95. The Cornell law school graduate currently coaches women’s swimming at the University of Nebraska.