2016 DOUG MCARTHUR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD RECIPIENT
Pierce County has been blessed with many coaches whose contribution to the lives of athletes and their community has been exceptional. Some of them have had remarkable win-loss records as a reflection of their effort and the talent they brought out of kids. But none has compiled a body of work and enduring success more impressive than Dick Hannula.
There are so many single achievements, honors and recognitions representing Hannula’s contribution to swimming that a complete list would require more space than this program allows.
Winning 26 state swimming team championships would exceed the credentials of many of the greatest coaches of any sport. For Hannula, it’s just a starting place in his bio - a bio that has been recited upon induction in nine different halls of fame.
He swam at Washington State University and then accepted a teaching and coaching position at Tacoma’s Lincoln High in 1951. Sixty-five years later he’s still sharing his wisdom in the local athletic community.
In his seven seasons coaching Lincoln swimmers, they won two state titles. Hannula moved across town to the new Wilson High School in 1958. The Rams didn’t win the state championship his first year but they started a double-blink, clear-your-eyes, did-I-read-that-right streak. The Rams went undefeated in 323 consecutive meets and won 24 consecutive state championships. There was one meet with Lakes High in 1977 that ended in a tie before the streak was broken by Portland’s David Douglas HS in 1983, Hannula’s last year as the Wilson coach.
Before the streak, when he was at Lincoln, he started the Tacoma Swim Club and was the head coach for more than 40 years. Swimmers at TSC turned Hannula’s coaching into success on the national and world level. Kaye Hall was one of four U.S. Olympic team swimmers who excelled under Hannula, turning him into a globally recognized coach. Hall set the world record in the 100-backstroke and won two gold medals and a bronze at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. Other world-class swimmers molded by Hannula included: Janet Buchan, Chuck Richards, Miriam Smith and sons Dick, David and Dan Hannula (daughter Debbie was a state placer). Five of his swimmers competed in the World University Games (winning three gold medals). Several were national champions and holders of American records at the time.
Acknowledging the success of Hannula’s coaching methods, he was named coach for many international competitions. He led the U.S. national team in international meets in 1973 (England and Bulgaria), 1975 (Pan American Games in Mexico City), 1976 (Egypt), 1978 (Taiwan) and 1985 (Pan Pacific Meet in Tokyo). He was the manager of the U.S. National team in international competition: 1979 - Pan American Games in Puerto Rico; 1984 - Olympic Games in Los Angeles; 1988 - Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, 2001 - Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia.
Hannula was also the commissioner of swimming at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle.
His list of Hall of Fame inductions began before he was even done coaching. In 1982, he received the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame Award. In 1987, the International Swimming Hall of Fame inducted Hannula. The State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame (1994), Pacific Northwest Swimming Hall of Fame (2004) and American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2004) followed. In 2005 it was our Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame. The Washington State University Sports Hall of Fame, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Hall of Fame and Aberdeen High (Weatherwax) Hall of Fame complete the list (for now).
To share his insight and mentor decades worth of other swim coaches, Hannula wrote extensively and led numerous camps and clinics. He is the author of Coaching Swimming Successfully and co-editor of The Swim Coaching Bible. Other swimming publications have published more than 100 of his technical articles. Hannula has been a featured coach at clinics in more than 30 states as well as the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia (twice); the Hong Kong Institute of Sport (twice), and the Thailand Swim Coaches Association.
He also served four terms as President of the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) and was Vice-President of the World Swimming Coaches Association. The ASCA honored Hannula with the Daland Leadership and Service Award.
If you want to improve your power stroke and distance in the pool, Hannula invented Han’s Paddles, a training aid sold around the world at www.hanspaddles.com.
It’s quite a legacy for a kid who grew up in Aberdeen delivering fish for his father’s company before going to school each day. He and his wife Sylvia have been Tacoma treasures and the world’s swim community has benefitted greatly from his lifetime achievement.