Bob’s competitive swimming career took off when he won the Rhode Island Interscholastic Championship for the 100 yard backstroke in 1 964 while swimming for Ellis Mayers at St. Raphael Academy. From there, Bob went on to win the RIAAU title for the 100 backstroke twice in three years representing the Pawtucket Boy’s Club, each time setting a new state record.

Swimming for Southern Connecticut State College, Bob trained under Bruce Hutchinson and set college records in the 1 00 and 200 yard backstrokes. He aspired to many other achievements at Southern Connecticut State College, including being named All-American swimmer in 1968, team captain, and winner of the team MVP award.

Bob’s interest in sharing his swimming experiences inspired him to begin a summer swim program at Sher-Le-Mon Swim Club in 1 964-65. He then moved on to coach at the Abbott Run Valley Club for the next three summers. His coaching was then interrupted by graduate school and military service in Vietnam. Upon his return to swimming, Bob coached the Amity Regional High School boy’s team from 1971 -1979. The team remained undefeated in all meets from 1 976-1979. In addition to coaching at Amity, he also began year-round coaching with both the Yale University Swim CIub in 1973 and the Woodbridge Aquatic Club.

He took on the challenge of being the first coach of a new program in the New England Prep School League at Choate Rosemary Hall. During the seventeen Choate seasons, he accumulated 59 All-Americans and 20 National prep records, including coaching the best swimmer in Choate history, Dede Trimble. Under Bob’s wing, Dede placed 10th in the Olympic Trials.

Robert has continued as coach of the Choate Dolphins and dedicated time to Masters swimming where he coached world and national record holders. In 1 988, Burns demonstrated his expert skills in the water, where he swam the backstroke leg of the medley relay which broke the masters world record. He remained a nationally ranked masters swimmer for 1 5 years.