By John Raffel
Dennis Hill is accustomed to coaching winning swimming teams at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School.
It doesn't matter if he's coaching boys swimmers or girls swimmers.
Hill is in the middle of another boys swimming season, his 39th at Pioneer. In the fall, he completed his 34th year as girls coach and celebrated his 14th state title with that unit.
As he was getting ready to start the boys season, Hilll coached his girls team to another state title. Pioneer compiled 359.5 points for first place, while Holland was second with 221 and Farmington Hills Mercy third with 159.5.
He's also had 13 state championships with the boys, giving Hill 27 state titles in his coaching career. He also has one mythical national championship to his credit.
"The state titles are pretty nice," Hill said. "They seem to get better all the time. I had a lot of girls back from last year's team."
It was that team that won a mythical national title from a national swimming publication.
"This year, our relays probably aren't strong enough to be in the running for a national title," he said.
But Hill's girls team still had enough talent to win their seventh straight state title.
"East Lansing had a streak of six straight state titles in the 1970s. In 1979, we beat them for the title to break that streak," Hill said.
His 2006 championship team was especially ignited by its relay teams, Hill said. Pioneer was second in the state meet in the 200-yard medley relay, and first in both the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relays.
Carlye Ellis was a state champ for Pioneer in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke.
"We've had a lot of good kids over the years," Hill said. "We've had a lot of summer clubs where the kids have come from for a long time. They just keep coming in.
"We had 84 girls on our team. We have had some big teams."
When it comes to coaching, Hill has kept it in the family.
"My wife, Liz, is an assistant coach," Hills said. "She coaches the younger kids and gets them ready for the varsity. That way, we feel we can accommodate everyone."
Pioneer High School, located across from the 110,000-seat Michigan Stadium for the football program, includes a 14-lane swimming pool. Hill has been a chemistry teacher at the high school. He was an all-American swimmer at Michigan State.
When it comes to coaching swimmers, Hill said the Midwest is the place to be.
"I would say our teams are usually in the top 10 nationally when you take everything into consideration," he said. "There's a lot of Olympians that come out of Michigan."