Lee Arth, first water polo, swim coach, passes away

Leland (Lee) Arth, Rio Hondo’s first water polo and swim coach, passed away July 7 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Arth began his Roadrunner coaching career in 1966 and guided the first every water polo and swim teams into the Metro Conference.  

When the college went into the Southern California Conference shortly after, Arth coached the Roadrunners to their first ever conference title in 1967 and again in 1968.  The two titles were the first ever recorded by the college.

Arth also established a aquatic program at the college for young school aged boys and girls that spanned nearly 20 years.

“Arth was a great water polo coach,” said John Francis, who was Sports Information Director for Rio Hondo during those years.  “He recruited well and put the swimming program on the map.”

He retired from full-time teaching at the college in 1986, but taught part-time through the spring of 2008.

Arth came to Rio Hondo after coaching Newport Harbor High to the CIF championship in 1965.  He won several league titles at Newport.