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Posted on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Saline swim coach Todd Brunty receives national coach of the year award

By Pete Cunningham


Saline High School swimming and diving coach Todd Brunty (center) was presented with the NISCA coach of the year award on Thursday. He is pictured with Saline athletic director Rob White (left) and superintendent Scot Graden (right).

Photo courtesy of Kym Williams

Updated story: Saline mistakenly awards swim coach Todd Brunty national coach of the year

The Saline High School boys swimming and diving team hosted its first meet of the season on Thursday and -- to the surprise of no one -- won by nearly 100 points over visiting Tecumseh.

Such margins of victory have become commonplace for the swimming program under coach Todd Brunty. What happened poolside during the meet’s intermission, however, was anything but. Brunty was presented with the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association coach of the year award.

“I’m not sure there’s an adjective that really describes what an accomplishment that is. One that comes to mind is flat out incredible,” said Saline athletic director Rob White during a poolside presentation.

Brunty flashed his signature squinty eyed smile, normally reserved for when his swimmers receive accolades. For once his outward joy was for selfish reasons.


For once, Brunty's smile was for an award he was receiving and not one of his swimmers.

Photo courtesy of Kym Williams

“I’m happy that my work that I’ve put in and the time I’ve spent gets recognized by other people. It’s not why you do it, but it’s nice,” Brunty said. “I’ve always driven myself to make sure (the swimmers) get the success, so it’s nice to see that I get some recognition.”

By being anything but selfish is how Brunty has gotten to this point.

“Just seeing him put so much time and effort into the team, you almost feel obligated to give back the same amount of time and energy he puts in,” said Connor Corcoran, a captain on Saline’s 2010 state championship team.

Corcoran was one of a handful of Brunty’s former swimmers on hand to honor their coach. Adam Messner, a state champion for Brunty when he coached at Dexter High School who went on to be an NCAA champion and All-American at Stanford, had a prerecorded speech streamed in over the loudspeakers.

Messner recalled what it was like on Brunty's first day on the job in Dexter.

“It was obvious you were going to take us to the promise land,” Messner said. Brunty coached Dexter to a Class B-C-D state championship in 1999. “With your brother as your assistant, you guys were basically the Harbaughs of Michigan high school swimming. It was very awesome swimming for you guys.”

While his former pupils honored Brunty, the current crop stood poolside, honoring their coach with an atypical round of applause, and following it up with their typical form of respect: dominating in the pool.

The junior class has known nothing but success, with state championships each of the past two years and a Class 3 public school (enrollment 1,401-1,900) NISCA national championship last season. Brunty is also the coach of the girls team, which won state championships in 2009 and 2010 and was runner-up this season.

Brunty and his team have the lofty, yet realistic, goal of not just winning a third consecutive MHSAA Division 1 state championship, but to score more points than any state championship team in the country.

“It looks like we can be in the mix,” Brunty said, again flashing that squinty grin.

It's in setting such goals that the team continues to improve, even on a nights when they're going to win by 100 points, which is often.

“He always tells us, race as hard as we can no matter who we’re against. ... The way he gets us ready for meets and the way he trains us, it’s all focused on meets at the end of the season,” said junior David Boland, who already has six state championship event titles to his name. “He’s a great coach and I give credit for what I’ve done.”

White pointed out that in order to have the success Brunty and Hornets have enjoyed, the crop of athletes has to be strong, but noted that without Brunty’s coaching, those abilities would go unrealized.

“It’s so incredible to watch what he’s able to do with our student athletes to get the most out of them,” White said. “He does have those horses, but he pushes them and challenges them and pushes them beyond what they even believe they can do.”

Pete Cunningham covers sports for Contact him at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham


Harry Potter

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

This would be quite the honor, that is if the NISCA coach of the year award actually existed. To the best of my knowledge there is no such award. If you visit the NISCA website you will find nothing about this award. There is however a MISCA coach of the year award for the state of Michigan. That being said, Saline is a strong team and coach Brunty is a great leader with big goals and good intentions. I personally wish the best of luck to his team of swimmers this year as they have worked very hard for years to get to where they are today. However I do believe that like @peoplethtesedays has said these swimmers have only ever trained with coach Brunty for 10 months out of what is likely 10 year long swimming careers. Coach Brunty was handed a group of freshmen who had the ability to win states their freshmen years. Wouldn't this award better be suited for a coach who has taken a large group of goof ball swimmers and turned them into state caliber athletes. Regardless, I think this article is misinforming and in need of a bit of clarification.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

Congratulations to Coach Brunty for receiving such a prestigious award but I don't believe he gave credit where it was due. The top swimmers only swim for Coach Brunty for four months out of the year. The rest of the year they are training with Club Wolverine under head coach, Kelton Graham (formerly Bailey Weathers), and the rest of the CW coaching staff. It'd be nice to see this "anything but selfish" coach give some credit to the coaches that train these boys for the other eight months of the year...


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

maybe someone should give a special award to those coaches then. Brunty shouldn't have to give credit to anyone,it's his team for those 4 months and they are swimming for HIM for those 4 months. Club Wolverine is a whole different entity and they can give away their own awards.


Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

Congratulations to coach Brunty!

longtime AA

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

From Dexter to Pionneer and Huron, and now to Saline, this area should be proud of the high school swimming programs. We should be grateful and appreciative of all the time and effort that coaches like Denny Hill and Todd Bunty put into these proigrams. In this age of big money in college and pro athletics, to see Todd, Denny, and hundreds of high school coaches just in this area do all they can to help our young people is something that does not get the publicity it should..