They were fin men or watermen in newspapers that shouted out their exploits. The men that come together to be inducted in the athletic hall of fame as the outstanding team for 2007 share one more common thread: They have not seen each other in a very long time.
That is not unusual, considering that over 45 years have passed since this group of talented swimmers from local high schools melded their talents together to achieve their goals through competition for Glendale Junior College in 1961.
Under the guidance of head coach Bill Reinhard, the Vaqueros won the Western State Conference title and finished ninth among the top teams in Southern California that season. They did well under challenging circumstances because they didn’t have use of the community pool across the street from the college because the city did not want to pay to have water in the pool in the spring.
"We trained and competed at Hoover High as our home pool, which was great for the Hoover guys on our team but not so great for a Glendale High like me. But seriously, that was a great team and a great bunch of guys that I remember fondly,’’ said Jim Baugh, who set several school and conference records for the team that season. "The City of Glendale produced a lot of outstanding swimmers from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, starting with Bill Reinhard running the Indian Springs facility in Montrose and then continuing at the college when Bill started and ran the aquatics program for several years.’’
The 1961 team came into the season as the defending WSC Champs and made two titles in a row by going undefeated in conference dual meets, thanks to the strength of swimmers Jim Baugh, Jim Ballard, Garry Johnson, Mike Towles and Jim Wexler, who are all here this evening. Led by head coach Bill Reinhard, who is now a two-time hall of fame inductee after being a meritorious choice inductee in 2004, the Vaqs not only won the dual meet championship but also the conference finals held at Los Angeles City College.
The Vaqueros qualified four swimmers from the Southern California meet at Santa Ana College for the state meet at Stanford University but chose not to participate because of budget issues.
Several years later Baugh took over the coaching duties from Reinhard and coached both water polo and swimming until 1978 when Proposition 13 caused Verdugo Pool to shut down, which resulted in the end of the Glendale College aquatics program.
But no matter what they were called, the 1961 Glendale College men’s swim team will go down in history as one of the finest teams that the Vaquero aquatics program ever produced. The six men who represent them tonight can attest to that.