Doc Counsilman: Making Waves (2003)
2-DVD set with additional material; approx. 181 minutes
In addition to Making Waves, Disc One includes bonus interview footage and silent home movies; Disc Two includes stroke analysis films and The Oldest Man in the Sea, a 30-minute WTIU-produced film about Doc’s channel swim.
The story of the revolutionary swimming coach, from his youth and military career, to his 33 years with the IU men’s team and his English Channel swim.
James ‘Doc’ Counsilman is known as the greatest swimming coach of all time, but he is much more than that. It’s that story—of Doc the husband, father, friend and coach—that is the subject of WTIU’s documentary, Doc Counsilman: Making Waves.
Though sports plays an important part in Making Waves, as it did in Doc’s life, this program tells the life story of Doc the man as well as the coach. It’s about his 60-year marriage and partnership to his wife, Marge. It’s about his heroic military career and how he survived being shot down over Yugoslavia in World War II. It’s about his joy and pain as a father. Finally, it’s a story about dreams and how Doc Counsilman made them come true.
In 1959 Counsilman, the Indiana University men’s swimming coach, and Hobie Billingsley, the IU diving coach, stood in front of the site that was to become Royer Pool. Although IU had never had more than a mediocre swimming program, Counsilman looked at his friend and declared that they would build a dynasty in that hole. As unlikely as it sounded, those who knew Counsilman believed if it could be done, Doc would do it.
In the years that followed, Counsilman's teams won 20 consecutive Big Ten Championships, 6 consecutive NCAA Championships, 72 individual NCAA Titles, 272 Big Ten Individual Titles, and 47 Olympic Medals.
Later, at age 58, when Counsilman began experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, he again set out on what most outsiders considered an impossible task—he decided to swim the English Channel, becoming the oldest person to do so at the time.
It was that can-do attitude that Doc carried to every part of his life and is captured in Making Waves.
“He gave me a vision,” said Mark Spitz, an IU swimmer and Olympian. "He made me realize destiny isn’t a matter of chance, it’s a matter of the choices you make. It was something he didn’t allow me to sit around and wait for. He actively participated with me to create that challenge and create those dreams.”
Production support was provided by the Indiana University Varsity Club, Joe Hunsaker, Chairman of Counsilman/Hunsaker and Associates, and the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation.
The COMPANION WEB SITE contains a detailed description of the program, online video clips, a bio and timeline, photo gallery, and more.