2010-01-21 / Sports

Swimming coach is on his way to 500 wins at NBTHS

Gregg Anderson is the first and only swimming coach in the history of the school
BY JIMMY ALLINDER
He has watched some of his teaching peers enter the profession, enjoy a long career and then happily retire. Gregg Anderson, who for 37 years has been a social studies teacher and the only swimming coach in the history of North Brunswick Township High School, isn’t quite ready to pack it in. He has more to accomplish — like 500 career wins.

PHOTOS BY JEFF GRANIT staff Above: North Brunswick Township High School swim coach Gregg Anderson keeps time of a swimmer during a meet against Piscataway High School on Jan. 15 at NBTHS. Anderson is on pace to record his 500th win. Left: Anderson talks with one of his swimmers prior to the meet. PHOTOS BY JEFF GRANIT staff Above: North Brunswick Township High School swim coach Gregg Anderson keeps time of a swimmer during a meet against Piscataway High School on Jan. 15 at NBTHS. Anderson is on pace to record his 500th win. Left: Anderson talks with one of his swimmers prior to the meet. “I thought about [retiring] when I was about to turn 60 a few years ago,” said Anderson. “Then I felt I might pack it in last year. But the energy is there to teach and coach. It’s been my life.”

While the former Rutgers All-American swimmer takes bountiful pride in his role as a teacher (two U.S. history and three American law classes), it is his role as swimming coach for NBTHS where he has crafted a legacy that will be hard to match in New Jersey high school swimming circles.

Anderson’s cumulative meet record for both the boys and girls teams is a combined 495-298-3, five shy of the 500-win mark. With that many meets remaining for both teams, Anderson could reach the half-millennium mark in victories this year. If not, he will certainly be at the helm when either of his teams reaches 500 next year.

“To be honest,” Anderson said, “I really hadn’t thought about [500] until somebody mentioned it recently. My time here has transcended different generations and eras, to put it in perspective. I’ve had the opportunity to coach a number of quality athletes.”

Anderson breathed a huge sigh when asked to single out those he recalls most for their achievements at North Brunswick.

“When do you need this information?” he asked. “I really need to think about this. There have been so many.”

When pressed, Anderson named Cay Andres, a three-time state champion who raced for the Raiders in the early ’80s and went on to swim for the University of North Carolina.

He also recalls the many families who have produced swimmers who wore the yellow and blue, like the Thompsons, whose four children spanned 13 years of swimming for North Brunswick, or the Roses’ 11 years.

However, what Anderson is most proud of are the many academic All- Americans he has coached.

“Through all these years,” Anderson said, “I’ve come to learn that swimmers are the smartest students and the best people in terms of character. That’s my personal opinion, but mentoring these people is what has inspired me to keep coaching and teaching.”

Above: North Brunswick Township High School’s Matthew Lu competes in the 200-yard individual medley during a meet against Piscataway High School on Jan. 15 at NBTHS. Right: North Brunswick’s Vicky Borbas competes in the 100-yard fly during the meet. More photos at www.gmnews.com. Above: North Brunswick Township High School’s Matthew Lu competes in the 200-yard individual medley during a meet against Piscataway High School on Jan. 15 at NBTHS. Right: North Brunswick’s Vicky Borbas competes in the 100-yard fly during the meet. More photos at www.gmnews.com. Anderson grew up in Sacramento, Calif., where he attended Mira Loma High School. During his years in his native state, Anderson was a member of the Arden Hill Swim Club, which also sponsored U.S. Olympians Mark Spitz, Mike Burton and Debbie Meyer.

When Rutgers offered him a full scholarship, he came East, earning All-American honors his sophomore and junior years in the 200 backstroke. His record stands today, not because there might not have been a better swimmer at Rutgers, but because the swimming program has been canceled.

“My biggest disappointment,” he said.

Anderson met and married another outstanding swimmer at Rutgers, Sue Pitt, who became a two-time Olympian in 1964 and 1968 and was a world record holder in the 200 fly. The Andersons, who have since divorced, are the parents of two daughters, Cattie and Sally, both of whom swam for Franklin High School and were high school All-Americans and NJSIAA state champions.

In 1996 the Anderson girls were part of a team that won the NJSIAA State Group B Championship, ironically knocking off their father’s team from the tournament. Sally, in her senior year in 1998, set a pool record in the 500 free at NBTHS. Both went on to earn full scholarships to Penn State and became All-Americans.

Among Anderson’s other accomplishments are qualifying for the NCAA national meet three times, and coaching in Tunisia with the Peace Corps, the Junior National and Senior National teams, from 1970-72.

Anderson has been inducted into the Rutgers Olympic Sports Hall of Fame and is a member of the New Jersey InterscholasticAthleticAssociation Hall of Fame.

While Anderson enjoyed his time out of the country with the Peace Corps, he eventually returned to Central Jersey in 1973 when North Brunswick Township High School was built — which included a swimming pool.

“Smartest thing the township ever did,” Anderson said about the pool being built. “I know a number of high schools had designs for swimming pools but they were voted down because of the perceived expense. I can’t tell you how much use the pool gets. The senior community is here four times a week and the Recreation Department uses it as well. The pool has paid for itself many times over.”

While his work continues in teaching and coaching, Anderson is involved in the State Coaches Association, where he has chaired the annual coaching clinic for the past 13 years. He is also state delegate to the National Association of Swimming Coaches and has volunteered his time as an administrator for the coaching mentor program for new swimming coaches.

As far as individual honors, Anderson has been voted Greater Middlesex Conference Coach of the Year “a number of times,” but has no idea how many.

Anderson was finally asked about his coaching philosophy and how it may have impacted his long-term success.

“I had the privilege of being coached by Frank Elm at Rutgers,” Anderson said, “and he was a believer in the concept of distance training. While we don’t swim any event longer than 500 yards, I ask the kids to put in 4 [thousand] to 6,000 yards a day during practice. That has never been a problem. Swimmers are not only the smartest people, they’re the hardest workers.”

Perhaps Gregg Anderson might be included in that group.

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