In 1978, Bob took on the responsibility of coaching the Ashland High School Men’s swimming team. He began his first season with 11 young men and finished with a 2-15 record. It was a tough and frustrating season, but he stood by the sport in which he loves and has developed strong and reputable Ashland swimming tradition over the years.
Bob was born and grew up in Euclid, Ohio. He started competitive swimming at the age of 12 at the YMCA. He is one of the most honored swimmers in the history of Euclid High School sports. During his high school career he was a three-year letter winner, team captain, state champion in the 100 backstroke and along with his teammates, set state records in 200 Medley and 400 Freestyle Relays. Bob’s efforts earned him 16 time All-Ohio and High School All-American standards. The summer of his junior year, Bob also earned a place on the Pan American team which swam in Florida. He also earned three letters in track in which he held the pole vault school record for over 10 years. In 1967, he was voted as the Euclid High School “Athlete of the Year.” In 1994, Bob was inducted into the Euclid High School’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Bob continued his swimming career at Bowling Green State University where he earned four letters in swimming and one in track. As a college swimmer, he was four-year All-Conference, 12 time All-American, four year Senior National Qualifier, Pan-American Qualifier and Olympic Selection Meet Qualifier.
After college he moved to Ashland and for the past 28 years he has been teaching art at the Ashland Middle School. In the first 10 years in he Ashland he coached the YMCA swim team, junior high track and football teams. The next several years he was involved with coaching the high school sprinters and pole vaulters only to give it up for the sport he truly loves.
The past 22 years Bob has focused his energy in the sport of swimming in Ashland. He took over the reins of the men’s team in 1978 and in 1981 he was responsible for organizing and establishing a swim program for women at AHS which ended their first season with a 7-5 record. Presently, Bob has compiled a record of over 578 wins and 160 losses. His teams have won eight Sectional Swim meets and have placed in the top ten in District Competition for the last 12 years. Other achievements include one Cardinal Conference title, nine boys and seven girls Ohio Heartland Conference titles, 16-time Conference Coach of the Year, two-time Boys District Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1993, and Boys State Coach of the Year in 1993.
Over the period the period of 22 years, Coach Henikman has produced many state and national qualifiers. Several of these swimmers have also been selected as High School All-Americans. For the boys, there have been 35 state qualifiers, two earning three gold medals and 16 high school All-Americans and 16 “Y” National Swimmers, two of which earned top places in their events in both short and long course meets. For girls, there have been 18 state qualifiers, four high school All-Americans, and six “Y” National Swimmers.
Finally, more important than the “wins and losses” are the actual individual swimmers that he comes in contact with every season. Teaching young adults to set goals for themselves that are challenging, yet achievable, and seeing to it that each swimmer leaves with a sense of self-discipline, confidence and pride is Bob’s greatest and ultimate objective. Bob also guides his team members to recognize the individual talents that every swimmer possesses and to appreciate the power of teamwork. Bob builds every team, every season around the idea of family; learning to value him or herself, and learning to appreciate others.
Bob and his wife, Mary, have three children: John, a senior at Ashland High School; Rob, a senior at the University of Arizona; and Kelly Stobbs of Dayton. In his spare time, Bob is an industrial sales manager of Savalon Lubricants incorporated, runs an elite summer program and enjoys playing with the family dog, Speedo.
Nominator: Mary Henikman and Children