Historically, swimming may be the most heralded sport in the rich history of Peddie athletics. Even so, it has gone through some down times. It was just such a time when Robert “Bob” Ballou took over the program in November 1965. Little could anyone have guessed that Coach Ballou was to usher in the modern era of Peddie swimming that continues to this day.
Buoyed by sophomore Bob Wilson, the team that first yera set some individual records. More importantly, though, Coach Ballou won respect and esteem in the eyes of his swimmers. Captain Jim Elder was moved to say, “He is the finest man I have ever worked under.”
Coach Ballou had a painful back condition which Peddie’s athletic trainer at the time, Dietrich von Schwerdtner, was often able to relieve. In their time together, “Mr. von” found that Bob and he held many of the same ideas about the education of young athletes. “He knew how to issue major challenges to his swimmers and yet treat them with compassion,” Mr. von said.
The following summer, a trend for years to come started as Peddie swimmers began training and teaching at Coach Ballou’s Silton Swimming School There, two youngsters who were to become future Peddie stars - Rex Capro, 11, and Jim Anderson, 8 - were already winning major events in their age group and in AAU competition. By the time Rex entered Peddie in 1969, both he and Peddie swimming were off to a fast start. In the first of his four years as a schoolboy All-American, Rex recorded the 7th best time in the country at the 50-yard breaststroke.
Of his coach, Rex recently said, “His pool was the crucible in which many a young person became an adult. Bob Ballou was not just a great coach; he was a great man, representative of all that is good about Peddie. A mentor, coach, father, friend and role model, I can think of no other man more deserving of induction into The Peddie Sports Hall of Fame.”