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Former Santa Clara Swim Club Coach Sentenced, Santa Clara Swim Club Still Not Made Whole

The criminal case against former Santa Clara Swim Club (SCSC) coach John Bitter is officially done. Bitter was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in state prison in early March. A spokesperson for the courts says it is possible that Bitter served enough time prior to the sentence through custody and modified detention that he could serve the remainder of his sentence in a local jail.

Bitter has only repaid $29,000 of the more than $800,000 the court says he owes the SCSC. According to court records, Bitter is currently litigating a civil lawsuit involving the Tipsy Coyote, the Arizona bar he purchased with the money he embezzled from the SCSC. Any money recovered from that lawsuit will be forwarded to the SCSC.

The total money that Bitter owes is based upon a civil ruling in Maricopa County, Ariz., where the Tipsy Coyote is located. The 2019 ruling found that Bitter embezzled $753,698.37 from the SCSC. It also awarded the club $50,000 in punitive damages.


“The court finds that Defendant John Bitter acted with an evil mind with the intent to defraud,” read the ruling. “These actions were intentional, fraudulent and to the great detriment of the entire Santa Clara Swim Club organization.”

In September of 2018, Bitter admitted to the SCSC Board of Directors that he used his position as CEO of the SCSC to take out a loan of more then $600,000 in the swim club’s name. He used the money to purchase the Tipsy Coyote in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Bitter was immediately fired and charges were filed with the Santa Clara Police Department. In late 2020, Bitter pleaded no contest to grand theft, embezzlement and forgery.

The SCSC continues to move forward following this damage that Bitter caused. Former Board of Directors President Chris Cavanaugh was recently elected to return as head of the Board of Directors.

The SCSC hired a new head coach in April. Kevin Zacher will be the club’s seventh head coach since the inception of SCSC 70 years ago.


1 Comment
  1. Michael 3 years ago

    “more than” not “more then”

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