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Bailey had a great run as tournament director at Section 1 swimming and diving meets

Sam Bailey is stepping back as the Section 1 swimming and diving tournament director after holding the role since 1985. He has been a meet official for nearly 50 years and spent 24 years as a coach.

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Sam Bailey greets a Mayo swimmer during the Section 1AA girls swimming and diving meet on Nov. 11, 2022, at Rochester Recreation Center. Bailey has been the boys swimming and diving Section 1 meet director since 1985 and the girls director since 1997. But he stepped down from the role this year and was the starter at the meet.
Guy N. Limbeck / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Anyone who has gone to a high school swimming meet in Rochester anytime in the past 50 years has likely seen Sam Bailey at the pool.

Despite his passion for the sport that has spanned most of his life, the 75-year-old Bailey is going to take a bit of a step back from his official duties.

Bailey has been the boys swimming and diving Section 1 meet director in Rochester since 1985. He was the girls swimming and diving head coach at Mayo from 1976 until 1997. Following that stint he also became the meet director for the Section 1 girls meet.

But starting with last week’s Section 1AA girls swimming and diving meet, Bailey will no longer be the meet director for the Rochester-based events.

“It’s been a great run, but it’s time for me to let somebody else do it,” Bailey said.

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Ken Hubert took over as the meet director at this year’s Section 1AA girls meet. Bailey was still involved as the starter for each event in this year’s meet and was honored prior to the meet.

Century girls swimming and diving co-coach Dale Magnuson is expected to become the meet director for the Section 1AA boys event. Bailey hopes that Hubert, who was a long-time swimming coach and activities director at Faribault, and Magnuson will also transition into the Big Nine Conference meet directors as well.

“I’ll still help them as needed, but I just don’t want to be in charge,” Bailey said.

Bailey grew up in Winona, where he was a swimmer in high school. After college, he came to Rochester in 1970 and has been here ever since. He was a teacher for 40 years. Between his time as an assistant and head coach, Bailey was a coach for 24 years.

“I wasn’t probably the best athlete, but you don’t have to be a super athlete to coach, I guess, if you know the ropes and know how to motivate kids,” Bailey said. “And I seemed to be able to do that.”

He has also been the meet director for Big Nine Conference swimming meets for decades. He is still the starter for regular-season high school swimming and tracks meets in Rochester as well.

Bailey also still hires event workers for Mayo High School sporting events.

He is an avid bird hunter in the fall and also enjoys canoeing. Being the meet director for the big postseason events always cut into his recreational time.

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“There are always four weeks in the prime hunting season that I’m kind of trapped,” he said. “I’m 75, there’s not going to be that many more years that I’m going to be able to climb in and out of a boat and do all that.

“So that’s what I’m going to try and do, get out of town and see some sights.”

He has spent plenty of time on the water over the years with Hubert and current Mayo activities director Jeff Whitney.

Bailey first started officiating in 1973, when he was an assistant coach for the Mayo boys team under Dick Thatcher, and has continued in that role for nearly 50 years.

“The smell of chlorine brings back a lot of memories,” Bailey said.

During his coaching tenure, Bailey gave advice to coaches and swimmers at other schools and he wouldn’t hesitate to ask outside coaches for advice either.

“I think the only thing I’ll miss is the relationships and the friendships, … getting to work with kids and other coaches,” Bailey said.

And while Bailey won’t be in charge of running meets, he will still be actively involved.

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“I’ll see you at the next meet,” he said. “I’ll still be around.”

Guy N. Limbeck is a sports writer for the Post Bulletin. His Local Notebook appears each Tuesday. He can be reached at glimbeck@postbulletin.com .

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Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or glimbeck@postbulletin.com.
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