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Swim coach back on pool deck despite medical setbacks

A college swimming coach has endured a heart attack, cancer in his colon and wrists, and the amputation of part of his leg.
In this Jan. 7, 2020 photo, Husson University swimming coach Butch Babin fist-bumps with a student while coaching during a practice at Webber Pool in Bangor, Maine. (Natalie Williams/The Bangor Daily News via AP)

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A college swimming coach has endured a quadruple bypass after a heart attack, removal of cancerous tumors from his colon and wrists, and the amputation of part of his leg.

But Husson University's Butch Babin is still on the pool deck.

Babin, 57, returned to coaching at the Maine college part time in October and then resumed full-time coaching after Thanksgiving, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Using a wheelchair while his leg heals doesn't affect his coaching, he said.

“I need to be here for the kids and myself,” Babin said. “It’s very important to let the kids know I wasn’t going to let this beat me."

Swimmers are inspired by his dedication and spirit.

Sophomore Kayla Redman, of Waterville, called him “amazing” and “awesome.” Senior Kelsey Poland, of Levant, called him an “inspiration.”

“He’s dedicated. To be here means a lot to us,” said sophomore Erin Aucoin, of Brewer.

Babin acknowledged that there have been times when he was discouraged by the challenges during several nightmarish years of health problems, which were capped by arterial stents last spring to improve blood flow to his heart and flesh-eating bacteria that led to the amputation last fall.

“But here I am, thanks to the good people around me and my positive attitude. All the support has helped me stay positive,” Babin said.

Assistant coach Robby MacDonald said Babin is invested in the success of the team and the development of the team members.

“Unquestionably, coach Babin has displayed great courage and great resiliency,” MacDonald said. “He has been very inspirational. He always comes in with a healthy, positive frame of mind."