Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming

During his coaching career, Doc Counsilman lived and breathed swimming. It was on his mind virtually every day, from the moment he woke until late in the evening, and sometimes all night.

Many aspects of swimming puzzled him, fueling an insatiable curiosity about the sport. His constant musings led to many of his coaching innovations. Throughout his career as coach and professor, Doc stressed the importance of studying the scientific basis of human movement. He taught his swimmers much of what he knew, and some of what he only guessed was true. The intellectual atmosphere he create

05/04/2021
05/04/2021

[05/08/20]   Dr. Joel stager wrote this obituary. The two were the founding members of the center and shared an office for almost 30 years!

David and his twin brother Joe were born in Danville, Illinois, January 21st 1950
to the late Megan and Bill Tanner. He grew up with and is survived by his four brothers, Jim, Joe, Tom, and John in an idyllic, central Illinois rural setting surrounded by mature trees, ponds, fertile farm fields and close family. He graduated from Danville High School in 1968 where upon his academic promise and athletic potential received attention from legendary IU swim coach James “Doc” Counsilman. He was recruited to Doc’s program at Indiana University and the rest as they say “is history.” He physically left Danville for Bloomington though throughout his life he steadfastly stated that while he “lived in Bloomington, he was actually from Danville, Illinois.” Thus, he never really left home and recently returned there to end his fight against lymphoma.

David, or Dave to many, quickly embraced Bloomington and the IU experience even though at the time, he recognized that he’d likely be a bench warmer with Olympians and multiple world record holders as teammates. But he reasoned that it gave him an advantage by being able to observe the very best do what they do. And despite sitting on the bench, over the next fifty years, his teammates universally perceived Dave as the glue that bound thirty some years of the Counsilman Era swimmers together. He became the team archivist, the Counsilman historian, the event planner, and the perpetuator of all things Counsilman. Perhaps most importantly to him, he became a devoted friend, affectionate caregiver and valued confidante to both Doc, Marge and the Counsilman family.

Following his graduation from IU (Phi Beta Kappa), David began almost immediately to build and express his personal legacy and philosophy. He accepted a coaching position in Spain, became fluent in Spanish and very quickly formed friendships that lasted his lifetime. David became an embodiment of the National Park Service’s “take only memories & pictures, leave only footprints.” He rarely left home without a camera. He had few material wants or needs. And ultimately, he left some very large footprints wherever he went. As he traveled through life, David became a collector of experiences and great friendships. He always had people to see, places to go and things to do… and valued that above the virtual reality offered by today’s technology. Walking anywhere in Bloomington with Dave became an exercise in patience as eight out of ten people passed not only knew him but admired him and the ideals by which he lived.

It is important to be mentioned that David earned his Eagle Scout rating from Troop 19 before leaving Danville. The Boy Scout manual states: “Eagle Scout” is not just an award; it is a state of being. Those who earned it as youth continue to earn it every day as adults. That is why an Eagle Scout IS an Eagle Scout—not was.” David took this very seriously and it is evident that he lived his entire life as an eagle scout and a gentleman; someone whose conduct conforms to the highest standard of propriety and correct behavior. He didn't drink alcohol. He didn't smoke. But he frequently admitted that he had an “unhealthy crush on Wonder Woman.”

There were clearly many facets to David’s life, some well known to all and some carefully and purposely hidden to all by him. Despite his own views on the matter, he was, in fact, by every measure, an elite, accomplished athlete. He held multiple state and national swim records (more than 100 Top Ten USMS Performances). Some of these records he held for decades. He completed some of the most ardent physical competitions ever arranged: the Western States 100, The Ironman at Kona, the Swim around Manhattan, and the Race Across America are just a few. He participated in trail runs, orienteering competitions, canoe races, open water competitions, kayak camping, river running and back country mountaineering. He never gave up. He never gave in. To quote his twin brother Joe, “David always was a very tough bird.”

To really know David, you’d have to be aware of his academic accomplishments as well as his athletic ones. Over the years, he wasn't particularly forthcoming because he felt it made him appear “snooty.” When someone who didn't know him well came looking for “Dr Tanner” he would always respond in a private conspiratorial voice that “Dr Tanner is particularly busy today, but I’m Dave, how can I help you?” He held degrees from IU in Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, Exercise Physiology, and Human Performance. In the truest sense of the word, he could honestly be described as a polymath. At IUB, David held various appointments and duties over the years. He was a computer programmer, data analyst, and statistical consultant. He was an outstanding instructor for multiple undergraduate courses in Exercise Science and Kinesiology. Perhaps most impressively, he mentored and was instrumental in assisting more than a dozen doctoral candidates complete their terminal degrees. Scholars from around the world recognized his expertise and his invaluable help in getting them through their difficult research projects. Some tried to hire him away from IU with no success. His loyalty to IU was boundless. A few interest areas in particular stand out: high altitude physiology, ventilatory mechanics, nutritional requirements of athletes, the physics of swimming, ventilatory motor performance are to name a few. He co-authored two books on the science of swimming and was an author and contributor to many, many peer reviewed research reports. He played an instrumental role in elevating the scholarship within the Kinesiology graduate program at IU from the late 1980s and onward.

David would tell you that the greatest reflection of his life efforts though, would be the North High School Swim Program. David coached at North for more than two decades developing a program displaying characteristics in line with his personal beliefs. With David at the helm at North, winning really wasn't everything. To him it was only ever a minor measure of success. David celebrated each and every athlete’s progress regardless of the competitive outcomes of the races. He strove to build a “program legacy” whereby participation was most important element. His focus was centered on the lasting memories, the friendships formed and the unique traditions they embraced. Similar to what he observed and learned from Doc, his relationships with his swimmers had no expiration date. His focus was on the entire individual not specifically the athlete. David played the role of coach, mentor, teacher, role model, confidante, counselor and of course… friend. His time commitment was enormous, his commitment total. His coaching days began well before dawn and frequently he could be seen cycling home well after dark. According to his swimmers, his only fault, perhaps, was making them endure his daily “corny sense of humor.” But in reality, they universally loved him for it.

David never married despite being frequently in love. If you were to conclude that he therefore didn't have a family, you’d be wrong. His family was Bloomington and his family eventually spanned the globe. His family consisted of all the swimmers who swam for him at North and all the swimmers who ever swam for IU. It included all the students he taught and all of the young scholars he helped. And of course his family included all of his brothers, their wives, children and grandchildren and his cousins in Wales.

David was a man of modest income and modest needs. Over his life he
asked for so little and gave so much to so many. If you had to choose someone to save your life, no matter what … David would be your guy. If you tied yourself to a rope and traversed a dangerous crevasse field, David would be your choice to be on the other end. He would never let up, never give in. He was a hidden giant among us who was never able to recognize the extent of esteem for him that was held by all who knew him well. Though much too short, his was a life well lived. David left us with great memories, many photographs and his many footprints on all of our lives. He will be greatly missed by his family, close friends and admirers within the Danville and Bloomington communities and around the world.

05/07/2020

RIP Dave Tanner, one of Doc's boys. Exceptional human being. Brilliant mind, coupled with grace and humility. Senior Olympian, outstanding Bloomington North Swim Coach- not only in swimming but how to be a decent caring human being. Influenced so many including my son. He will be missed in the Bloomington and International swimming community.

08/16/2018

Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington

Meet the man who established the IU School of Public Health's Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, where research that has influenced the sport of swimming and athletic training is conducted.

07/15/2018

SwimSwam

For years its has been known that in #running, different distances favor different body types. #Sprinters are generally more powerfully built and thus have a higher #BMI, while distance runners are generally thinner and smaller and have a lower BMI. This is due to the tradeoff between weight and power in land athletes. Stronger athletes generally weigh more due their larger muscle masses, which in turn, requires more strength to move quickly. Larger muscles also require more oxygen transport.

usaswimming.org 07/14/2018

MICHAEL BRINEGAR IS 'OPEN' TO HIS FUTURE IN SWIMMING

usaswimming.org USA Swimming News Article

07/14/2018

Swimming World

Hobie Billingsley Diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis; Recovering in Hospital

07/10/2018

Swimming World

ACC/Big Ten Challenge To Spread to Pool For First Time

07/10/2018

In The Know Innovation

This toddler was underwater for 15 minutes, leaving her brain seriously damaged --until scientists were able to completely reverse the damage with this incredible treatment.

07/05/2018

Swimming World

Swimming World Presents "The Art of Swimming, Featuring 20th Century Sports Cartoonists "

06/20/2018

Swimming World

How Much Do Swimmers Improve In College?

06/14/2018

Team USA

Relive Mark Spitz's 7 gold medals in this Gold Medal Moment presented by HERSHEY'S!

06/12/2018

Swimming World

LumaLanes Performance of the Week: Lilly King Blasts To #1 In World In 50 Breast

06/11/2018

Swimming World

The Week That Was: Ledecky And King Shoot To Top Of World Rankings In Santa Clara

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Swimming World

Lilly King Posts World-Leading 29.62 During 50 Breast Knockout Finals

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Swimming World

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05/31/2018

Congratulations!

On a recent trip to Mexico, Indiana University President McRobbie presented IU alumnus and former Olympic diver Luis Niño De Rivera Lajous with IU’s Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion!

Read More ➡️ https://bit.ly/2JdKFL5

#GoIU ⚪️🔴

05/30/2018

IU Swimming and Diving

IU Swimming & Diving welcomes 13-time All-American and 2017 World Championships Gold Medalist Zach Apple to the program as a transfer from Auburn University!

#NeverDaunted #GoIU ⚪️🔴

05/24/2018

Swimming World

Indiana Adds Dr. Kirk Grand to 2018-19 Coaching Staff

05/24/2018

Welcome back Kirk!

NEWS ➡️ Looze Adds Dr. Kirk Grand to #IUSD Coaching Staff - https://bit.ly/2x5W7nb

#GoIU ⚪️🔴

05/19/2018

Swimming World

(Video Interview) Lilly King Excited About Being In A Tight Race

05/19/2018

Swimming World

Blake Pieroni Picks Up First Win as a Pro in 200 Free at Indy PSS

05/18/2018

Swimming World

2018 TYR Pro Swim Series Indianapolis: Thursday Finals Live Recap
https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/2018-tyr-pro-swim-series-indianapolis-thursday-finals-live-recap/

05/18/2018

Swimming World

(Video Interview) Blake Pieroni's Life Isn't Much Different as a Pro

05/18/2018

Swimming World

Photo Gallery: Day 2 Finals of the 2018 Indianapolis Pro Swim Series

swimmingworldmagazine.com 05/15/2018

Recruiting Q&A with Legendary Mel Nash

Doc knew best. Kids fostered in a healthy environment both in the pool and out would become the best swimmers.

swimmingworldmagazine.com Over the course of the last 47 years, renowned USA Swimming coach Mel Nash has seen the NCAA recruiting process from virtually every angle.

05/14/2018

Swimming World

The Week That Was: More Than 50 USMS Record Fall At Masters Nationals

05/14/2018

Swimming World

Can World Records Supersede the Super-Suit Era?

05/14/2018

Swimming World

More Records Fall on Final Night of Masters Nationals

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Indiana University
Bloomington, IN
47405
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