2023 INDUCTION TO THE RHODE ISLAND AQUATIC HALL OF FAME
Jim Dollins began his Rhode Island swim team coaching in September of 1970 and continued for more than a decade, until a major job promotion ended the time available for his coaching. His coaching career began with starting an Age Group Swim Team at the Bristol YMCA at the suggestion of Hector Massa, Program Director of the “Y’. The program began with twenty-five inexperienced swimmers who had not competed previously, however, grew rapidly with one hundred thirty swimmers at its peak. This team competed in the YMCA League as well as the RI and SE Mass Junior League. While continuing to coach the “Y” team, Jim was instrumental in starting the Bristol High School Swim Club which after two seasons joined the Rhode Island Interscholastic League with Jim staying involved for three seasons and coaching for two seasons. Adding to his coaching responsibilities, Roger Williams University asked Jim to start a college team using the “Y” pool until 1982, with Jim serving as their coach for two years.
Continuing to build the foundation for competitive swimming in Bristol, in 1970 at Jim’s urging a Bristol YMCA Parents Group was formed to raise money to purchase equipment such as lane markers, starting blocks, stop watches, and practice pace clocks. They also raised funds for bus rides and other group activities as well as a record board. The Parents Group was also instrumental in forming a groups of swim officials under the direction of Jim Welch. This group of officials served at all home meets as well as away meets whenever needed.
With “Continuous Improvement” as the objective, careful records were kept of each swimmer’s performance times at meets and goals were set for each swimmer with monthly accomplishments recorded to measure progress. Additionally, Jim conducted Post Season Stroke and Turn Clinics in late spring for seven seasons. Always committed to improving his own skills, he attended International Coaching Clinics offered by “Doc” Councilman at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, as well as Montreal, Canada. He attended these clinics with Ellis Mayer, co-founder of the Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame.
As the team grew Jim recruited volunteers from Bristol to assist with the coaching. Over the years the assistant coaches included Joe Callery, John Pitman, Susan Cline, Scott Goodfellow, Brad Noe, Lou Tocci and Bill Sheidow. Over time, Jim encouraged older more experienced team members to help with coaching the younger and less experienced swimmers.
As testament to his swimming legacy, several of Jim’s swimmers are already in the RI Aquatic Hall of Fame including Jeff Allen, Joe Perroni, Rob Berry, Susan Perroni Simpson, Sarah Perroni Hart, and coach Joe Callery. Additionally, several former Bristol swimmers have made swimming part of their life’s career, among them Joe Securo, Jeff Allen, Cindy McCarthy, Kathy Welch, and Matt Connery.
For all that he has done to establish, grow and maintain competitive swimming in the town of Bristol Jim is affectionately and proudly known as the “Godfather of Swimming”.