Charlie Butt

Charlie Butt

In a remarkable five decades - from the early 1960s to the turn of the new millennium - Charlie Butt was a constant in the Bowdoin Athletic Department. There can be few individuals who were involved with as many Bowdoin athletes as Coach Butt, who served as the Polar Bears' swimming coach for 39 seasons and men's soccer coach for 23.

A native of Shanghai, China, Butt was a part of China's Olympic basketball and swimming teams for the 1948 summer games in London. Due to Cold War politics he forfeited the chance to compete in those Olympics, and soon afterward made his way to the United States. Butt graduated from Springfield College in 1953 and received his master's degree there in 1956.

After joining Bowdoin's staff in 1961, he made an immediate impact as his 1962 soccer squad won a share of the first Maine Intercollegiate Athletic Association soccer title and his '65, '66, and '68 teams won the crown outright. When he retired as head coach of the men's soccer program in 1984, he had set a new school record for career wins with 120 - a mark that still stands.

It was in the pool where Butt made his greatest contributions to Bowdoin. After taking over the men's swimming program in 1961-62, he guided Bowdoin to its first-ever unbeaten season as the Bears went 8-0 in dual meets and placed second at the New England Championships. His men's teams captured second place four times. He helped begin a women's program in 1976-77 and quickly turned it into a powerhouse, winning the New England Championship just 12 years after establishing the team. Overall, Butt accumulated an incredible 132-65 record in dual meets with the women's team and 198 wins with the men's squad. More than 50 of his swimmers earned All-American honors, including one (Lissa McGrath '83) who won three national titles.

Butt resides in Harpswell, Maine, during the academic year. In the summertime, as he has for nearly 50 years, Charlie directs the aquatic program at the Piping Rock Country Club on Long Island, New York. He has two children and two grandchildren.