Fullerton College Centennial


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Ernie Polte started at Fullerton College as a freshman walk-on for the Hornet water polo team in September of 1947. In February 1948, he was the State and National record holder in the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke and Medley Relay. In 1949 he beat the national record holder Jon Stebbins at Stockton College.

He then was accepted to Stanford University. At Stanford, he was the swimming captain in 1951 and won the PAC 8 Championship in 1950-51. In June 1951, he graduated from Stanford.

In 1962, Fullerton College hired Polte as the Hornet aquatics coach. He was the third ever swim coach in the history of Fullerton College. The program was founded in 1913 making it the oldest program in the state. In May of 1964 his FC swimmers broke every school record, and set new records in all but two events in the Eastern Conference.

In water polo, the Hornets won 12 conference championships, 6 Southern California titles, and 3 state championships in 1969, 1973, and 1974 (current water polo coach Rhett Price played on the 1974 team). Under Polte’s guidance, the Hornets had 36 All-Americans and an overall record of 506-156.

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

In the 1960’s, Polte designed and began one of the earliest college SCUBA programs at Fullerton College that still runs strong and is very successful today. Polte retired from FC in 1990 after 38 years of service, but still keeps very active in Aquatics. In his eighties, Polte participated in some of California’s premier competitive ocean swims like the Polar Plunge (San Clemente) Labor Day Pier Swim (Oceanside), the La Jolla Rough Water Swim, and the Pier to Pier Swim (Hermosa Beach). He still ranks among the top swimmers in his class in the country.

Polte has done so much for the aquatics program at Fullerton College, and it is still strong today from the dedication he put in.