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ASU swim coach Bob Bowman may be face of program, but his assistants keep it afloat

Coach Bob Bowman is well known within ASU swimming, but the assistants behind him are just as important

220924 ASU Swim and Dive Maroon v Gold Meet10.jpg

An ASU Swimmer prepares to do a lap at the Swim and Dive Maroon vs. Gold meet at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Tempe. 

ASU's swim coach Bob Bowman is renowned as a coach, having worked with Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. But behind him is a team of people that have helped the program become what it is today. Herbie Behm, Derek Schmitt, and Logan Hirka have been recruited over the years and either started as swimmers at ASU or traveled to the desert when they got the call to coach for the Sun Devils. 

So how did these three end up working alongside Bowman in the first place? Hirka was initially recruited as a swimmer, and after graduating, he started as a volunteer.

The experience Hirka brings to the team is being a former swimmer at Denver University from 2012-13. In 2016, Hirka moved to ASU as an undergraduate student manager and volunteer assistant to now being an assistant coach. Hirka helps Bowman with season plans for swimmers.

"I was there to ensure the pool was good to go and if anyone needed anything like recording times to now being able to coach," Hirka said. 

Behm works with sprinters and went to ASU to swim on the team. He started coaching while being a student-athlete for a club team called Sun Devil Aquatics, which no longer exists. He knew he had a passion for coaching, and after coaching for the club, a position was finally available.

"It's been a ton of fun working with these guys and the whole staff and team," Behm said. 

He started when the team was cut in 2008, and Behm looks back on how slow the restart was for the program. 

"When it was cut, it was a big deal in the state of Arizona for swimming," Behm said. "We didn't win three relay races the entire time I swam, so the fact that we have come that far means a lot to me." 

The men's team now has three relay race times, number one in the country. However, looking forward to the next half of their season, Behm says, "It doesn't really mean anything."

Having success too early can become a distraction, and these coaches focus on nailing each step for their upcoming meets. 

Schmitt coaches the mid-distance swimmers, and he knew Bowman before he started coaching. His sister swam for Bowman, and Schmitt was discussing his resume with Bowman a week before ASU announced Bowman as the head coach.

"He reached out, I said 'yup,' and the rest is history," Schmitt said. 

He started as a graduate assistant coach during the 2015-16 season, and he works to define swimmers' skill development as well as stroke technique. 

When he first touched down in the desert, he said, "Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into," feeling that 117-degree weather that would soon be his Sun Devil home. 

Bowman brought these three coaches as new additions to advance the team. His name brings recruits and pro swimmers to the school, which elevates the program. 

"We get to see the best in the sport, and it's good for the program all around," Schmitt said. "It's really an ode to his vision that he had, and bringing it from where it was to is a testament to his work."

His knowledge from stories and swimmers of the sport is incorporated into what the coaches do daily. Bowman helps them increase their knowledge, and his being at ASU helps the program. 

"He ties a lot of the history of swimming into what we are doing now," Hirka said. 

The Sun Devils just had their Wolfpack Invite over November 17-19, which was their checkpoint to see where they were as a team. 

"We had one of the best invites since I have been here for seven years," Schmitt said. 

This is the real test to see what they need to work on when their meets return in January. The swimmers get a lot of their best training over winter break. 

"It's really eating, swimming, and sleeping at this point," Schmitt said. 

The coaches are looking forward to Pac-12 play as they have a tough conference ahead with Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, which are at the top of the conference. 

As they go back into their training season, the coaches now focus on honing into the mistakes they saw in the front half of their season to be prepared for the NCAA and the rest of their conference. 

However, even though they want success, they are focused on seeing growth in the athletes.

"That is why we all do it at the end of the day is to see these athletes grow," Schmitt said.

The Sun Devil's next swim meet takes place at the beginning of 2023 on January 20th, when they host the Stanford Cardinal. 

Edited by Walker Smith, David Rodish and Grace Copperthite.

Reach the reporter at and follow @BoykinsLauren on Twitter. 

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