Men's Swimming & Diving Headline
GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Long before Ron Ballatore took over the University of Florida men's swimming program in 1996, he was one of the sport's most prominent coaches.
Ballatore was UCLA's head coach for 16 seasons and led the Bruins to the 1982 men's NCAA championship. He also coached in five Olympics. Ballatore passed away on Friday following a battle with cancer. He was 71.
Ballatore coached the Gators from 1996-99 and once his tenure ended, he remained in Gainesville and close to the program.
Ballatore's youngest daughter, Angelina, was a senior for the Gators this season. Two of Angelina's siblings – brother Ron and sister Jenne – also swam for the Gators in the last decade after decorated prep careers at Gainesville's Buchholz High.
In his three seasons at UF, Ballatore led the Florida men to a 19-12 dual-meet record. He was 109-51 at UCLA and was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year three times. UCLA discontinued its men's swimming program following the 1993-94 season.
Ballatore coached 28 Olympians in his career and was informed on April 6 that he had been voted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
A Chicago native, Ballatore coached at Pasadena (Calif.) City College prior to his memorable run at UCLA. He spent two seasons at Brown before finishing his career at UF.
Ballatore is survived by his wife, Ann, daughters Lisa, Jenne and Angelina, and sons Ron and Brent.