Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Legendary Coach, Steve Borowski

Steve Borowski hitches a ride on a Whale Shark

Steve Borowski hitches a ride on a Whale Shark

“By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn,” was one of the most applicable phrases used to describe legendary swim coach, Dr. James Counsilman.

    Counsilman is considered by many to be the most famous swim coach of the 20th Century and one of his students, Steve Borowski, is a coaching legend in his own right here on the Big Island.

    Borowski grew up in Chicago and at the age of four began swimming in a 20 yard pool.  “I’ve been involved with swimming for most of my life and was coached by the most famous of all swim coaches at Indiana University,” Borowski said.

    In high school Borowski excelled in swimming, and was an All American water polo player. He received a full swimming scholarship from Indiana University.

    “Doc Counsilman coached on three Olympic teams and wrote several great books on swimming,” Borowski said.  “I started coaching while in college on an age group team and then after getting my masters degree, I was Doc’s assistant when we won the 1972 NCAA Championships, when Mark Spitz was a senior there.”

   Borowski was on Indiana’s first and second NCAA Championship teams as well as swimming on the winning American record 400 Medley Relay, swimming the butterfly leg.

   So during the late ‘60’s and early 70’s it was Kealakehe coach, Steve Borowski, swimming with the best athletes in the world, before making Hawaii his home.

   “I came to Oahu in 1972 because a teammate of mine lived here and told me of a small coaching position that had opened up,” Borowski said.

    That “small coaching position” turned out to be at Punahou School and Punahou Aquatics. The age group team grew from about 35 swimmers to well over 100 during Borowski’s tenure which saw the team win several age group State Championships.

    In his 13 years at Punahou Borowski lead his boys and girls teams to 13 consecutive Hawaii State High School Championships, a national record at the time.

   “Punahou’s success came as a result of a lot of stroke technique, consistency, and a strong belief in me and my program,” he said.

   During the 1976 high school season Borowski coached Chris Woo who went onto make the US Olympic Team and swam in the Montreal Olympics where he finished eighth in the 100 breaststroke and competed on the Medley relay that broke the World record.

   “Chris (Woo) has been the only swimmer from Hawaii to make the Olympics in over 50 years,” Borowski said.

    Borowski also coached the University of Hawaii swim team and led the team to an undefeated dual meet season and a second place finish in the National Independent Conference Championships.

    “While at UH, from 1978-1980, I worked intimately with the student athletes to ensure a strong academic performance in addition to a strong athletic performance,” he said.

     Borowski’s resume is impressive, having been a US National Team Coach from 1978 to 1986 where he participated in numerous international competitions while coaching in France, the Netherlands, Japan, Hong Kong, Israel and Monaco along with US meets in Boston and Milwaukee.

    After the 1986 swim season Borowski left Punahou and moved to Kona.  In 1998, when Kona finally got a swimming pool, Borowski started the Kealakehe High School swimming program and has been coaching the Waveriders for 10 years.

    “I grew up in the center of a big city and saw my father wanting to visit a small farm in Wisconsin that we owned, as he loved the country,” Borowski said.  “After 14 years in Honolulu I felt the city getting to overcrowded and visited Kona often, as I too loved the country feeling.”

    Borowski became the director of the Kona YMCA for several years and also was the race director of the Ironman World Triathlon.  

    The ‘Rider coach also works with a class for adults called Swimming 101 which is for abilities from the novice to professional swimmer as they primarily focus on stroke technique.  And in his free time Borowski will also coach another 60 adult master’s swimmers and triathletes. 

   Borowski continues to stay in shape by swimming in the ocean, bodysurfing, free diving, doing underwater photography and going to the gym on a regular basis.

   “I swim about a mile or more several times a week and on the days I don’t swim I do a varied strength and stretching session,” he said.

   As a master’s swimmer, Borowski has set several American and World records in the freestyle and butterfly strokes.

    Borowski’s eating habits are simple as he eats several small meals throughout the day. He also does not go to extremes with his nutrition, but eats healthy and smart. And his secret to health success may lie in his desire to maintain his flexibility and strength through regular aerobic and anaerobic exercise.  

   “To me swimming is simply the medium to help positively affect children and adults lives.  Unlike most sports we are together about ten plus months a year, both boys and girls, we are family,” Borowski said.

April 27, 2009 - Posted by | Swimming in Hawaii | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. This is a great article about a wonderful person, but it leaves out at least one fact: Steve is an outstanding good will ambassador for Hawaii and the Big Island. Steve welcomes swimmers from all over the world to his age-group and masters swimming sessions, and has introduced thousands to the best open-water swimming hole in the world, Kailua Bay. For this, and for the many contributions mentioned in the article, Steve should be considered a state treasure!

    Comment by Robin Parisi | April 28, 2009 | Reply


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