Three Spartans inducted into WISCA Hall of Fame

Two of Bainbridge Island’s greatest swimmers — and one of its most accomplished coaches — have been inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Inductees into the WISCA Hall of Fame were announced during the Girls State Swimming & Diving Championships, and three former Spartans earned the honor.

Standout swimmers Emily Silver and Helen Silver, along with former Bainbridge swim coach Greg Colby, were named as Class of 2019 members of the Hall of Fame.

“I’m completely humbled and honored,” said Colby, who was girls swim coach at Bainbridge High for 24 years.

“I certainly didn’t get it by myself,” he quickly added.

“Nobody accomplishes things or achieves goals or succeeds by themselves,” Colby explained. “I share this with all the swimmers I coached, and all the swimmers I coached against, and with all the coaches I coached with and the coaches I coached against.”

“I share it with the Bainbridge Island School District, Bainbridge parks and rec, and Bainbridge Island Swim Club. All of those organizations and people over the years ­— I wouldn’t have been inducted without them.”

During the awards ceremony during the 3A Girls State Swimming & Diving Championships at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way, Meet Director Jeff Lowell called Colby “everything a high school coach should be.”

“It was a little overwhelming,” Colby said.

“I never thought of myself as a Hall of Famer. I’m just doing what I love and helping kids and it was super special to have Jeff introduce me and for him to feel that way. For him to interject that was awesome; we’ve been good friends and colleagues for a long time.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I’m not very good at being in the spotlight,” he said.

Colby himself swam in college, at Wisconsin, and specialized in the individual medley and butterfly events. He also swam for the Boise YMCA team and is a member of its Hall of Fame.

During his years as coach for Bainbridge High, his Spartan squad won the state title four times.

BHS officials said his teams always finished in the top seven at the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 3A State Swimming & Diving Championships, and Colby’s teams were in the Top 4 a total of 22 times.

In 13 seasons, his teams were the runner-ups to the state champs.

Swimmers on his teams won 23 individual state titles and 26 were named All-Americans by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association.

Colby — who won honors as the WISCA Coach of the Year five times while coaching for Bainbridge — who coached swimmers to 21 state relay championships.

Bainbridge officials noted that Colby also assisted with the Bainbridge Island boys’ team for 15 years and recently served as the Interim Head Coach at the College of Idaho.

Also inducted as Hall of Famers were Emily and Helen Silver.

Emily Silver was the first athlete in WIAA state meet history to win the same events, the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle, four straight years; in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

One of the most decorated athletes in state history, she broke the state record in the 50 free three straight years and also broke the 100 free record once.

The Spartans won the state crown when she was a freshman on the team, and in the following two years, was the runner-up.

Best known for her silver medal win at the 2008 Olympics, she starred collegiately at California and was a four-year NISCA All-American. As a collegian, she earned All-American status an amazing 20 times.

Helen Silver, her older sister, won three straight titles in the 100-yard backstroke. She set the state record in the event twice in a row; in 1999 and 2000.

Each year of her high school swimming career, Silver finished in the top 20 in the nation, solidifying her as one of the top backstrokers of the era.

She was a star swimmer for the University of California, and claimed an NCAA title in the 200-yard backstroke in 2006.

Silver also won the 100-meter backstroke at the 2005 U.S. Summer Nationals.

Emily Silver accepted the awards for both sisters, and there watching again from the stands were her parents, Mary Sue and Bob Silver.

It was an honor, their former coach said, to be overshadowed by the accomplishments of the Silvers as they, too, were named to the WISCA Hall of Fame.

“Their talent was off the charts,” Colby said.

“It was an incredible honor to be inducted into the WIAA Hall of Fame, not only with my sister Helen but with my high school coach, Greg Colby, as well,” Emily Silver said.

“Helen and I have so many memories swimming at KCAC, not only in high school but growing up as age group swimmers. To stand on that pool deck again brought up so many emotions,” she added. “To have Greg induct me was so meaningful, he was someone who always believed in me, even as a freshman with my goals to becoming a state champion. He helped me reach those goals and others time and time again, and he has very much influenced the person I am today in so many ways.”

Former Spartan swim coach Greg Colby listens as his accomplishments at Bainbridge High are detailed during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

Former Spartan swim coach Greg Colby listens as his accomplishments at Bainbridge High are detailed during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

Emily Silver holds up the Hall of Fame award for her sister, Helen Silver, during the pair’s induction ceremony during the 2019 Girls State Swimming & Diving Championships. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

Emily Silver holds up the Hall of Fame award for her sister, Helen Silver, during the pair’s induction ceremony during the 2019 Girls State Swimming & Diving Championships. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

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