The Hinsdale Swimming Program
Coach Watson was the coach of distance swimming legend John Kinsella, Olympic medalist John Murphy, world professional marathon swimmer Sandra Bucha and swimmers from all walks of life including British Petroleum CEO Bob Dudley and entrepreneur George Tidmarsh while heading the swimming program at Hinsdale High School in Illinois, U.S.A. that produced many AAU Distance Individual and Team Championships, and won 12 state titles from 1967 to 1978. He also hosted the AAU Distance Championships.
Awards and Honors
Coach Watson was the 1979 recipient of the Glen S. Hummer Award recipient, an award given to the individual who makes the greatest contribution to the open water swimming in the United States.
In 1970, he was selected as Coach of The Year by the American Swimming Coaches Association.
6-time international USA Swimming Team manager from 1989-1995. Director of University of Texas Swim Center from 1981-2005. Manager of Longhorn Aquatics Swim Club: 1981-2005. Conducted over 45 major swimming championships. Coach of Hinsdale High School Swimming Team from 1965-1980. Coach of 5 Olympic swimmers winning 2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze medal from 1968-1972. Coach of swimmers setting 3 world records and 5 relay world records. Coach of world championship swimmers winning 5 gold and 1 silver medal from 1973-1979. Coach of 6 swimmers winning 13 national championships and setting 6 national records from 1970-1976. Coach of 3 swimmers winning 3 gold and 1 silver medal at the Pan American Games.
Hinsdale Swim Club Record (1963 - 1978): In 1970, he coached John Kinsella who was the recipient of the Sullivan Award as the greatest amateur athlete of the year while a senior in high school. He was also selected as Coach of The Year by the American Swimming Coaches Association. During this period, his teams won 7 National Senior AAU Long Distance Swimming Championship Titles while he coached 5 Olympic Athletes and swimmers who set 2 world records and 3 swimmers on 5 world record relays.
University of Texas- Jamail Texas Swimming Center (1981 - 2005): As the Administrative Director, he organized and conducted over 45 major competitions and activities including USA Olympic Swimming and Diving Trials, USA Swimming World Championship Trials,, three USA Swimming National Senior Swimming Championships, and 12 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Collegiate Championships Meets.
International Coaching and Manager Assignments (1970 - 1983): He served as the team manager and coach of six major international competitions including the 1973 FINA World Championships in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
An Athlete's Perspective
Air Force Academy graduate and Olympian Bob Nieman says of Watson, "We were all so fortunate to end up in this little suburb of Chicago that ended up being the most progressive swim program in the state. His over-distance training was something that everyone started doing eventually. He was into the short-rest interval things to build capillaries. He was really ahead of his time. What Don did was take competitive people, and create this crucible that was the workout program. He created great swimmers. It was a combination of knowing what he was doing and paying attention to the details."