Mike Popovich, a long time contributor to swimming in the state of Oregon passed away June 1 in Lincoln City. A service for Mike will be held Tuesday, June 16, at 12:00 noon at Lincoln Memorial Park. The address is 11801 SE Mt Scott Blvd., Portland. A burial service will follow at 1 P.M. at Willamette National Cemetery.
Remembrances can be sent to:
Tom L. Thomas
30040 SE Harris Place
Gresham, OR 97080
Mike graduated from the University of Oregon, mid to late 1950’s. Met Dr. Don Van Rosen, who later became the University of Oregon’s Swimming Coach. Together they promoted aquatics, including competitive swimming.
His first Aquatic Director/Teacher/Swim Coach position was in North Bend, Oregon in the late 1950’s.
He became the Aquatic Director for the Gresham Centennial School District in the early 1960’s where he helped with the design of Gresham, Centennial, and later Barlow High School Swimming Pools.
During the 60’s he organized a swimming league called the Columbia Basin Swim League, (CBSL). This winter league included all year round swimming clubs in Oregon and Southwest Washington, with the exception of the Multnomah Athletic Club. The goal of the CBSL was to promote the team concept of competitive swimming by establishing conferences based on team size, with a conference championship at the end of the winter season. As the Commissioner of this league, this may have been when Mike got the name, “The Godfather of Oregon Swimming”.
At this time, Mike also established The Portland Area Aquatic Council. This was a professional outlet for the area’s Aquatic Directors in the public and private sector. This group met monthly with the goal of promoting and marketing all areas of Aquatics.
In the late 1960’s Mike took the position of Aquatic Director of the Mountain Park Aquatic Center. He played a roll in the design and construction of Oregon’s first fifty meter indoor pool built since the opening of the Multnomah Club’s facility. This venue hosted the Summer Long Course Regionals for many years. He was also instrumental, along with Dr. Don Van Rosen, in the MPAC being awarded the Pac-10 Men’s Conference Swimming Championships. The first time it was held in the Pacific Northwest in several decades.
Mike moved on to become the Aquatic Director of the Mount Hood Community College Aquatic Center, while still in the blue print plan, in the mid 1970’s. He played a major role in the design of the facility. A facility that included a detailed outdoor water park, that was later deleted due to lack of funds. The MHAC hosted numerous Regional/Sectional Championships. He also hosted numerous Masters Meets, both locally and on a national level. He was also a worthy Masters competitor in his age group. Many swim clubs utilized the outdoor pool for long course training. It also became the main venue for the Oregon High School State Swimming Championships for all classifications in the state.
Mike Popovich was voted Oregon Swimming’s James J. Richardson’s Award in 1979. An award given annually to an individual contributing to the success of Oregon Swimming.