On March 22, 2008, the all too familiar refrain "the best program in the country without a national championship ring" was put to rest. On that evening, just two hours away from the hometown of Coach Frank Busch, the Women Wildcats of Arizona captured its first NCAA team title. It was a weekend of dominance, with an intensity fueled by three prior second-place finishes.
One week later, against remarkable odds, the Arizona Men's team upset Texas and Auburn to win its first national championship trophy. In doing so, Arizona became only the second team in NCAA swimming history in which both men and women, coached by the same staff, swept championship titles in the same season.
Other historic markers fell during those combined six days of competition. Arizona became the first team to win eight out of a possible ten championship relays. Five of those relays set NCAA meet records and four were American records as well. Although four Arizona athletes claimed individual titles, the meets were won with a "team-first" mantra. Coach Busch accurately predicted that the 2007-2008 teams would have the "deep talent" necessary to score repeatedly through all 16 places; ultimately this depth accounted for the combined winning margin of 230 points.
Now entering his 22nd year as Arizona's head coach, Frank Busch began his coaching career under unlikely circumstances. At age 16, when he and his summer league teammates arrived for the first practice with no coach in sight, Busch volunteered for the vacancy. After 7 summers (1967-1974), Busch began a four year career with the Northern Kentucky Piranhas (1974-1978), followed by a year with the senior program of the Cincinnati Marlins. Busch began his long service in the college coaching ranks at the University of Cincinnati (1980-1989), where both teams broke into the Division I Top 20.
Although it was a long march to the summit of the sport, predictions of success became louder each year. Consistent Top10 finishes gave rise to a steady presence in the Top 5. From 1991 on, each season produced at least one individual or relay champion. Entering the current season, Arizona has captured 43 individual titles and 27 relay titles.
Coaching honors have accompanied Arizona's steady rise to national prominence. Coach Busch has been named NCAA Coach of the Year six times and is an 11-time Pac-Ten Coach of the Year. In 1998, Busch was named Coach of the Year by both USA Swimming and the United States Olympic Committee. He has been selected by United States Swimming to serve on numerous coaching staffs, including the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
Busch and his wife, Patty, have five adult children.