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The Hornet

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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Former Hornets Aquatics Coach Ernie Polte passes

Hall of Famer and former Hornets Aquatics coach, Ernie Polte passed away at the age of 90. After a long battle with liver cancer, Polte passed away at his home in San Clemente on Sept. 28, 2017. He is survived by his three sons, Larry, John and Jeff.

Ernie Polte began at Fullerton College in September 1947 as a member of the Hornets water polo team and swim team. In February 1949, he was the State and National record holder for the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke and Medley Relay.

Ernie Polte
Ernie Polte in the Pool. Photo credit: Fullerton College

He was then accepted into Stanford University in 1950-5, where he won the PAC 8 championship as the swimming captain. In June 1951, he graduated from Stanford.

In 1962, he returned to Fullerton College as the Hornets Aquatics Coach where his team made history.

In May of 1964, the swim team broke every school record and set new records in all events but two in the Eastern conference.

Under Polte, the Hornets water polo team won 12 conference championships, 6 Southern California titles and 3 state champions in 1969, 1973, and 1974 (current coach Rhett Price played on the 1974 team). The Hornets overall record under Polte was 506-156 and they had 36 All-Americans.

In swimming, Polte’s teams won 9 conference titles, 6 Southern California titles, and 2 state championships (1970 and 1975).

Ernie Polte and Swim Team
Ernie Polte with Coach Jimmy Smith and the Swim Team. Photo credit: Fullerton College

He retired from coaching in 1990 after coaching for 38 years, he then was inducted into the Fullerton College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

Polte was an active swimmer and participated in some of California’s biggest ocean swim competitions and events such as, the San Clemente Polar Plunge, the Labor Day Pier Swim in Oceanside, the La Jolla Rough Water Swim and the Pier to Pier Swim in Hermosa Beach.

“Ernie was an active swimmer and scuba diver all the way up to his 90th birthday. He was proud to still be able to swim at his age and he lived a good life. He was also mentor to me and I take what he taught me and teach it to my students,” said coach Rhett Price.

Ernie Polte had success both as an athlete and as an aquatics coach as a Hornet, his legacy lives on within the program and as a Hornet.

Ernie Polte
Ernie Polte Coaching the Fullerton College Water Polo Team. Photo credit: Fullerton College