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    Ex-Mission Viejo swimming coach Mike Pelton remembered for CIF-SS titles and mentorship
    • July 9, 2024

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    Former Mission Viejo boys swimming coach Mike Pelton, who guided the Diablos during their run as a national powerhouse, died June 18 from cardiac arrest, his death certificate confirmed. He was 76.

    “His biggest dream was to do what he did (as a coach),” friend Debra Blake said. “He considered his swimmers his kids.”

    Pelton, a Lake Forest resident, died at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, according to his death records. He suffered from heart disease and rapid heart beat, records showed.

    Pelton guided Mission Viejo’s boys swimming team to 20 CIF-SS championships from 1976-1999.

    When he left the Diablos following the 2001 season, the 20 titles tied Pelton with former Bakersfield football coach Dwight Griffith for the state record for most section titles by a coach in one sport, according to Cal-Hi Sports.

    Both coaches have since been surpassed for the state record.

    Mater Dei boys basketball coach Gary McKnight holds the Orange County record with 24 section titles.

    Pelton’s run at Mission Viejo coincided with the rise of the Mission Viejo Nadadores as a club juggernaut under Mark Schubert. Pelton led the Diablos to 13 consecutive section titles from 1976-88 and coached several Olympians.

    “Huge loss for our community,” said Troy Roelen, Mission Viejo’s assistant principal of athletics. “He was the foundation of Mission Viejo swimming.”

    “Great dude,” Roelen added. “Very positive.”

    Pelton’s impact extended well beyond the pool.

    Villa Park softball coach Terry Williams counted Pelton as a friend and mentor.

    “Despite the fact we coached different sports, he understood leadership and program building,” Williams said. “He was a legend in Orange County high school athletics and had an impact on so many athletes over the years.”

    “I’m really going to miss him,” Williams added.

    Pelton’s coaching career was influenced by his mother Katherine, a former elementary school teacher.

    Katherine set 34 FINA Masters world records and became a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2006.

    “She gave him everything,” Blake said of Pelton’s mother, who died in 1992. “Everybody loved (Pelton). He was bigger than life.”

    Service arrangements weren’t announced. Pelton’s assistant coach Ron Osumi served as the informant for his death certificate, according to records.

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    ​ Orange County Register