Dave Busch actually started the swimming program at United Township.

And after this year, his 38th in charge, he will no longer be an official part of it.

Busch, the Panthers' boys and girls swimming coach, will be stepping down after the winter boys season. He’s already coached his last girls season, which concluded with his seventh Western Big Six title and second in a row. UT has won six Big Six titles in the boys’ competition. Busch also won’t be coaching the summer program or running the indoor pool after June 1.

Busch, who turns 60 in May, came to UT right out of North Central College where he was a freestyle swimmer. He wanted to start a high school program. UT had a pool and needed a pool manager. The late Gene McCarter, then the UT athletic director, promised Busch the opportunity to start a program when he hired him in the summer of 1979. Busch has managed the pool year round, run the summer program and coached both teams since. The pool at UT is a cooperative program between the high school and the city.

“It’s a long time to stay,” said Busch of his 38 years. “The kids have kept me in it this long because I have just had a lot of good kids to coach, but there’s a point in time. There’s a lot of new training things out there. I know what they are.” But, he added, younger coaches “could implement them a lot better than I can.

“I am kind of a dinosaur in coaching,” Busch added. “Time to pave the way for new blood.”

Busch is proudest of the 70-plus kids who went on to swim in college programs after swimming at UT.

“I figure our swim program has a nice reputation,” he added. “It comes from the great pool of kids I’ve had the opportunity to coach. We’ve had a lot of kids who enjoyed swimming and hopefully I made a difference early on in their swimming career.”

Busch started the girls program in the fall of 1979 and the boys program that same school year. Then he started the swim program in March of 1980 as a feeder into the high school programs.

He also enjoys looking at the UT leader board and record board at the pool.

“It’s nice to look at the record board and I know everybody up there,” he said. “I’ve seen all those records happen.”

He says the biggest thing he has seen change in his 38 years is that more kids are working.

“When I first started, a lot of kids didn’t work at all,” Busch said. “It was easier to get kids out. Now, you’ve got more kids working, so you have to work around schedules more. I am probably a little more lenient now than when I was younger because of all of what the kids are involved in now.”

UT athletic director Mark Pustelnik said Busch will be tough to replace.

“Obviously, it’s a big loss for the UT swim program,” Pustelnik said. “Hopefully, we can find a coach that’s half the coach he was.”

But it’s more than that, Pustelnik said. “It’s not so much losing the coach, but losing the person. He’s a class act.”

Pustelnik said there is no timetable on finding his replacement; he’s just glad Busch will be around to answer questions for the new coach.

As for Busch, the more you talk to him, it’s clear: he really enjoys coaching kids.

“The kids are so good,” he said. “Kids are kids. I enjoy working with them. They kept me young. I was able to last because they kept me young.”