NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - “Our community has lost a great man and I have lost a good friend," said Dr. Patrick Smith on Jim Wood's recent death. "I have known and worked with Jim and his BAC athletes for almost 30 years. Jim loved our community having grown up in New Providence and as a businessman and coach at both the Berkeley Heights and more recently in New Providence at the Berkeley Aquatic Center of Excellence for over 40 years."

Tributes to the late Jim Wood, founder and head coach of Berkeley Aquatic Club Center of Excellence (BAC), continue to pour in on social media and in media outlets around the country.

Wood’s death on Jan. 4, at the age of 68, was announced by BAC on its Facebook page Saturday morning.

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It was Wood's dream to build a world class swim facility for all to enjoy in his community, a place where not only great athletes could train, but a place where great  people could develop. 

Dr Smith recalled one such example of Jim’s philosophy, “We were sitting in Jim’s new office discussing some community projects after an early morning swim practice, Jim loved to support the community as a sponsor of things like the BH5K and the BH free summer concerts in the park, among countless others, I noticed an old basketball all alone in a glass trophy case so I asked him, why does a swim coach have only a basketball in his special case? He said 'go take a look at it.' As I opened the case, the old ball was signed 'to my friend Jim, John Wooden.' If you know anything about basketball, you know John Wooden is perhaps the greatest basketball coach of all time and someone who shared Jim’s vision of not just coaching great athletes but helping to develop great people. When asked how he got the ball, he said, I would have Coach Wooden provide a surprise inspirational talk to my Olympic swim teams before leaving for the competition and one year he gave me one of his Championship balls and signed it out of respect for the great job we did with those young athletes, instilling the values which help form the foundation for great individuals. These core values which Jim demanded and I emphasize demanded, of his BAC and all the other world class swimmers he coached, can be found in the lane lines at the bottom of the new competition pool at the BAC Center for Excellence."

"I’m going to miss Jim, but am thankful for the time we shared, and lucky to have learned from my friend,” said Dr. Smith.

Family and friends are invited to attend the Memorial Visitation on Monday, January 21, 2019 from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Paul Ippolito Berkeley Memorial 646 Springfield Avenue, Berkeley Heights, NJ. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of Peace Church, South St., New Providence on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. 

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