SIU Alumni Association To Honor Steele As Distinguished Alumni
The SIU Alumni Association will honor Robert “Bob” Steele ’62, M.S. ’63, as the recipient of the 2016 SIU Distinguished Alumni Award for Career Achievement.
Steele began a 58 year swimming coach career with the Carbondale Sharks youth group in 1959. The Chicago south-sider swam for Saluki Coach Ralph Casey from ’58 - ‘61, winning four conference championships and competing in three National Amateur Athletic Union Championships. Steele was Saluki Swim Team Captain in ‘59. As a recipient of the Lingle Award Steele, he gave the dedication speech for the SIU Arena in ‘62.
Steele returned to SIU as the swimming coach from ‘73 – ’84. His teams were in the NCAA I Top 20 nine times, set 19 records, and won six National Independent Championships, with two swimmers setting American records and ten competing in either the Olympics or international competitions. Under his guidance, with a lifetime record of 230 and 66, SIU beat every Big Ten team.
Steele’s coaching success did not end there. He coached 25 high school and 145 NCAA All-Americans with 21 ranking in 41 world events. While at Northwestern University, his teams scored in the NCAA Top 20. As coach at California State University-Bakersfield, Steele’s teams won five NCAA II National Championships setting six national and 14 CSUB records. Steele was named NCAA II Coach of the Year four times. The Peoria Richwoods and Deerfield High School teams set three Illinois State High School records.
For nine years at USA-Swimming at the Olympic Training Center, Steele directed Athlete and Coaching Development which prepared swimmers in the Olympic and world championships, as well as coached the National Junior Team (’82) and National Team in Holland and France (’83). He coordinated Aquatic Center construction for altitude training and conducted 184 USA-S Team Excellence Camps for world-ranked high schoolers. He was also an inductee into the American Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016.
Steele continues to conduct clinics and camps for the International Swimming Federation, The American Swimming Coaches Association, and Federations in 21 countries. His "Games-Gimmicks-Challenges" for Swimming Coaches is used in 31 countries.
Bob's career is described as “infectious enthusiasm, making friends worldwide as a great coach, clinician, and true SIU ambassador who bleeds MAROON”. He has a current three year individual membership with the SIU Alumni Association. Bob and his wife, Evelina, live in Garden Bay, British Columbia along Canada’s Pacific Coast.