Hibbing’s Swim and Dive team is a very successful program. Since the early 1920s, the program has won 13 state championships (this feat is tied for the most all-time with Hopkins), 12 runner-up, three third places, two fourth places, four fifth places, and two sixth places.[1] The team has had many individual champions in an event and hundreds of top eight finishers. Many region championships and I.R.C.s have been won by both the boys and the girls. Hibbing’s program also has had three talented coaches, Paul “Pop” Lukens, Carl Allision, and Mike Veneziano. The former two coaches are in multiple Hall of Fames, including the Minnesota Hall of Fame and the United States Hall of Fame. “Pop” Lukens is also in the International Hall of Fame for swimming. [2]

The program got started by Mr. Lukens. In the early 1920’s, he moved to Hibbing from Pennsylvania. He brought over an “East Coast attitude” that helped get HHS Swim and Dive off and running. During that time, the mines were bringing in a lot of money so the majority of the swimming pools were located in Northeastern Minnesota (the rest were in the cities). The pools that the early swimmers swam in were 20 yard pools. During his 40-year tenure with HHS, he won many region championships and 13 state championships. His first state championship came in 1927 and his last came in 1952. He is considered to be one of the greatest swim coaches of all-time because of what he accomplished. He retired from coaching in the early 1960s and Carl Allision took over.[3]

Mr. Allision swam for Mr. Lukens. He then went to the University of Minnesota and swam for them. After he graduated, he coached with the Virginia swim team for two years before moving to Hibbing and becoming head coach. During his career with the Bluejackets, he never had any state champions but he produce 19 second place finishers. He also produced a multitude of top eight swimmers. He won many duel meets, IRCs, and region meets. In fact, he won so many IRC meets that the swimming community on the range actually took out the IRC meet because no team could beat the Jackets.[4]

The current coach has been the head coach for approximately ten years and also served as the junior varsity coach before that. He swam for Coach Allison in the mid-80s and did extremely well. Now as the Varsity coach, he has won three region championships with the girls in the past five years and has won multiple IRC meets. On the boys’ side, he has had four or five runner-ups at state and has had many quality teams. Two of those teams were in 2001 and 2007 where the boy's team placed fourth and third respectively at state. He has had many top eight finishers at state with the boys and only one on the girls’ team.[5]

According to the current coach, the swimming community has evolved. During Pop Lukens era, there were almost no year-round swimmers. In Allison’s, there were a few year-round swimmers. Now, most of the swimmers who do well at state are year-round swimmers. That is what makes the 2001 and 2007 teams so great, because Hibbing had no year-round swimmers on those teams.[6] He plans on developing more talented teams in the future and continuing the tradition of success of the Bluejackets.

[1] Observation. HHS pool and surrounding area, December 16, 2010.

[2] Interview with Current Coach. December 15, 2010.

[3] Interview with Current Coach.

[4] Interview with Current Coach.

[5] Interview with Current Coach.

[6] Interview with Current Coach.

[7] Picture of Pop Lukens. University of Minnesota Hall of Fame. November 20, 2010.

[8] Picture of Carl Allison. University of Minnesota Hall of Fame. November 20, 2010.

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