Rochester Swim Club Orcas coach resigns

By Elliot Mann

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

The longtime head of the Rochester Swim Club Orcas Inc. has stepped down, according to a letter on the club's website.

John Sfire, executive director of the club, started coaching in Rochester in 1992. He has also coached swimming in Michigan, Georgia and Alabama. Sfire did not respond for comment.

Sfire's letter was posted on the club's website on Friday afternoon, saying he has "many reasons for moving on."


"It's with a sad heart that I have to tell you that I am leaving the Rochester Swim Club after 18 years of being here with you," Sfire wrote. "I have many reasons for moving on and actually I've been trying to move on for the past seven years. I need to work on some things I've been putting off and I need to spend time with my elderly parents, something I just have not been able to do as I want."

The letter has since been removed from public view and replaced with a letter from the swim club's Board of Directors. The board's response thanks Sfire for his work.

The group won several awards during Sfire's tenure. In 2009, the Orcas adult masters took first in two categories of the national February Fitness Challenge.

But Sfire also ran afoul of state and national governing bodies of amateur swimming. He was implicated in a time-falsification incident several years ago, after which he and two board members were suspended. A USA Swimming Inc. Board of Review found that Sfire and the board members changed, or helped cover up the changing of, 44 swimmers' times in a computer database after the 2002 Rochester Invitational. Swimmers' times were changed to be faster than they actually were; in one case, a split time was falsified so much that it was faster than the world record for that stroke and distance.

Several Orcas board members also did not respond to e-mails and calls requesting comment.

According to the club's 2008 tax records, Sfire was paid a salary of $60,000 as executive director.

Contact reporter Elliot Mann at (507) 285-7624 or

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