Dave Armbruster (USA)
Honor Coach (1966)
FOR THE RECORD: Coached University of Iowa swim team for over 30 years; His ideas on technique helped bring the butterfly stroke into being as a fourth stroke for national and international competition; President of the College Coaches Association in 1938; Author of Swimming and Diving textbook on competitive swimming.
Dave Armbruster (Iowa) is a coach’s coach as well as a swimmer’s coach. His ideas on technique, particularly on development of the butterfly, brought that into being as a fourth stroke accepted for national and international competition. Armbruster turned out great swim teams at Iowa for 30 years and was President of the College Coaches Association in 1938 when they got NCAA permission to hold their annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the beginning of the College Swim Forum and forerunner of Fort Lauderdale as a swimming interest site for the Hall of Fame.
Armbruster developed many national champions and several Olympic swimmers at Iowa but is best known internationally as author of Swimming & Diving, the accepted textbook on competitive swimming.
Armbruster is an important link between competitive coaching and teaching. He has encouraged swimming research and trained numerous coaches as they received graduate physical education degrees at Iowa. His stars included 1952 Olympic gold and silver medalists Wally Ris and Bowen Stassferth.
Top coaches who did graduate work under Armbruster are Dr. James Counsilman (Indiana), Mexican Olympic coach Ron Johnson, Hinsdale’s Master High School coach Don Watson and the AAU’s National Chairman of Women’s Swimming, Dr. John Bogert.
As with Matt Mann and many other master swim coaches, Armbruster credits the ubiquitous George Corsan, Sr. with his early interest in swimming and coaching. Corsan traveled throughout the U.S. from his Toronto, Canada, base building YMCA pools, teaching swimming and writing books. In 1911, Corsan introduced Dave Armbruster to the fishtail action that ultimately led to its utilization in Armbruster’s evolution and acceptance of the modern butterfly stroke. At 90, Corsan repeated such a demonstration (arms and legs tied together) fishtailing the length of the 55 yard Casino Pool at the Fort Lauderdale Swim Forum.
Pictures of Weissmuller eeling through the water at Silver Springs and watching Walter Spence first using the butterfly armstroke into his turns in breaststroke were other steps along the road that led Armbruster with Jack Sieg and Bob Allen to the new stroke in 1934. Twenty years later, thanks to persistent effort by Dave Armbruster, the new butterfly stroke was officially approved by the FINA and put in the Olympic program along with the return of the traditional orthodox breaststroke.