Schweiger family at the heart of Menomonee Falls' diving success

Father Robert and son Craig lead 2012 Hall of Fame Class

Sept. 18, 2012

The line of Menomonee Falls WIAA state diving champions is a long one and dates back to Vickie Schweiger at old Falls East in 1975 right up to school record holder Nathan Cox in 2011.

The names are impressive and include Colin Klagmann and Danny Cox on the boys side and two-time champion Laurie Gaudes on the girls side.

But it always seems to come back to the name Schweiger.

Along with Vickie, there was also her 1978 state boys champion brother, Craig Schweiger, and their father, longtime swim and dive coach Robert Schweiger.

Robert and Craig Schweiger will be honored among the latest class of five inductees into the Menomonee Falls Athletic Hall of Fame this Friday in ceremonies at halftime of the Hamilton-Falls football game and after the game in the school with the unveiling of plaques.

"I didn't grow up diving, I sort of avoided it," laughed Robert, "but it was always an interest that I had. I was coaching swimming at Marshall (High School in the late 1960s) and I had to figure out a way to work with the divers.

"So I read a lot about it and I went to clinics. I really tried to understand the physics of it. I began to get it.

"It didn't come to me as fast as I would have liked but it all came around."

A mentor for many

Robert, a longtime shop teacher in both the Milwaukee and Pewaukee School Districts, coached the Menomonee Falls Swim Club for a time and then wound up mentoring the divers at Falls East and North and later at the new Falls High School.

It was a post he held, along with that of diving coach at the Falls Swim Club, for about 20 years.

The powerful run at Falls with Schweiger started with his daughter Vickie in 1975 at Falls East and then rapidly accelerated through to a vastly talented quartet of performers who grew up with one another, competed against each other and demanded the best from one another in the mid-late 1970s.

Mike Osborne and Craig Schweiger were at Falls East and Craig DeCloux and Tom Maier were at Falls North.

Osborne, also a Falls Hall of Fame inductee, was the first to break through on the boys side in 1976.

Craig shines at Falls and beyond

But then came the magical year of 1977, where the quartet not only battled each other for conference and sectional honors but for state supremacy as well.

At that 1977 WIAA state meet, it was all Menomonee Falls all the time, no other divers need apply, as the late DeCloux, another Hall of Fame inductee, edged the 1976 champion Osborne with Craig Schweiger in third and Maier in fourth.

"We were very fortunate to have four such very good divers at that time," Robert said. "Most of the time we were able to train together, but sometimes I would have to go over to one school or the other and if they had separate meets then I'd have to pick.

"…They really pushed each other. They drove each other in age group competition and were also good at cheering each other on. There was no bitterness between them. They were always happy with each other's success."

The following year, in 1978, was another great source of pride for Robert as son Craig reached the mountaintop and earned a state title of his own going unbeaten throughout the season.

Craig later earned a US Naval Academy Appointment and was also a scholarship diver at the University of Hawaii earning an NCAA nationals berth in 1981.

Robert an inspiration

Before that success, Robert Schweiger was a groundbreaker.

When Robert's eldest, Laurie was in school in the late 1960s-early 1970s, formal WIAA athletic competitions for girls were just getting underway and he helped her and another Falls Hall of Fame inductee Sue Schneider-Momsen be ready for when those first WIAA state girls swim meets started in 1970.

Schneider-Momsen and Osborne both praised Robert Schweiger at their induction ceremonies in 2010. Schneider-Momsen also took some of Robert's coaching techniques into a successful career of her own.

Crediting others

Robert Schweiger is grateful for such praise, but knows that kind of success would not have happened without a lot of help.

He thanked all the diving parents who spent money and drove their children to various meets throughout the state and he was grateful for the support he got from municipal sources like former Falls Recreation Department Director Bob Tank.

"The swim club was even able to purchase a Goliath Trampoline with overhead spotter that was so important to training," he said. "I was just very fortunate."

And as happy as he was to coach all the championship divers he had in his career, he holds dear everyone he had a chance to train and help push through barriers of self-doubt and trepidation.

"I really enjoyed the kids," he said. "It's not just the first or second-place finishers but also the kids who overcame fear and tried a new dive. As long as they were willing to learn that was just great.

"That's what I loved about coaching."

Going in with son meaningful

That and working with his own kids.

"It's an honor to be inducted but to be inducted with my son means much more than I could ever explain," he said. "It always means more to me when the kids are honored.

"Far more than anything that's done for me."

And though he stepped back from coaching in the mid-1980s, the diving success has not diminished at Falls.

Robert admits that he has not followed the program at the high school or the club as closely in recent years but is pleased when he hears good things about it.

"We were lucky, when we started out, we were one of the first schools with both one- and three-meter boards," he said. "Having good facilities means so much.

"It really helped make us very competitive."

Schweigers lead class

Kramer-Bertola, Burnie, and Niese-Nolin to join them

WHAT: Menomonee Falls Athletic Hall of Fame will induct its latest class Friday at Schumann Stadium. Joining Robert and Craig Schweiger will be star distance runner Valerie Niese-Nolin, soccer ace Nicole Burnie and basketball and volleyball athlete Michelle Kramer-Bertola. There will be a public introduction at halftime of the football game and then there will be a public reception and unveiling of plaques in the cafeteria immediately following the game.

DIVING NOTES: Robert Schweiger coached his daughter Vickie and son Craig to state titles along with DeCloux and Osborne, but that hardly ended the run of diving success at Falls.

It continued and champions include the following: Boys - Brad Dahmer, Menomonee Falls/Hamilton (1994); Colin Klagmann, Menomonee Falls/Hamilton (1999); Danny Cox, Menomonee Falls/Hamilton (2005); Nathan Cox, Menomonee Falls/Hamilton (2009 and 2011). Girls - Laurie Gaudes, Menomonee Falls (1987 and 1988); and Stephanie Sadowski, Menomonee Falls/Hamilton (1993).

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