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Tom Mix, Published March 05 2014

Dick Fisher, Fargo North’s award-winning swimming coach, has the Spartans preparing for the state meet


One look at Dick Fisher’s resume for coaching swimming, and it’s easy to conclude he has a passion for it.

Fisher has been the head coach at Fargo North for 24 seasons and also coaches in the FM Gators swimming program. He has received several state and regional coaching awards, but last summer he received an honor that Fisher said took him by surprise.

In June, Fisher was named national swimming and diving coach of the year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.

“It was an awesome experience and very humbling,” Fisher said of the award, which was given to him while attending a coaching clinic. “No coach starts out with their eyes on winning an award like that, so it is very gratifying. … Anytime your peers recognize you it feels good, but the thing about that is it doesn’t give us any bonus points at the state meet.”

Fisher’s Spartans claimed the East Region team title last weekend and are preparing for the state meet set for Friday and Saturday at the Hyslop Sports Center in Grand Forks.

“(Coach Fisher) preaches hard work pays off,” Fargo North senior freestyle standout Steven Rider said. “Everything he does is meant to get us headed in the right direction.”

“Coach Fisher has built a very successful program and has created a lot of excitement for swimming and diving at our school,” Fargo North assistant principal and activities director Travis Christensen added. “Part of that is the fact that the team has performed well, but another part of it is the athletes buying into his coaching.”

Fisher is a 1985 North graduate and was a swimmer on the Spartans state championship teams in 1984 and 1985.

As a coach, Fisher has guided North to state titles in 1994, 1996 and 2012, but said he can’t take full credit for all the success the program has seen in his tenure.

“I don’t win that award without my wife (Barb), who is a great coach in her own right, and my brother (Skip),” said Fisher, whose brother has been an assistant coach at North for 11 years. “It wouldn’t have happened without those two and a bunch of other people, too. The program was strong before I started. The parents are great and the coaching staff is great. It really has been a group effort.”

Marsha Dahl, head swimming and diving coach at West Fargo – North’s Eastern Dakota Conference rival – works with Fisher in the summer Gators programming.

“He genuinely loves to coach,” Dahl said. “He is very innovative and always has great ideas. Our teams have a healthy competition with one another. (North) always forces us to bring our best. We always know anytime we swim against them it is going to be a great experience for the kids.”

Preparation is paramount with Fisher, and it has yielded results.

Entering the state meet, senior Tanner Bjorlie has the fastest qualifying performance times in the 100 butterfly (53.35 seconds) and 200 individual medley (1 minute, 58.81 seconds). Both times were set last Saturday and were new East Region records.

“The East Region is definitely a confidence booster for us,” Bjorlie said. “We turned in some good performances as a team and started to see some of our hard work pay off.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562