I had," said Cutler, a longtime teacher and coach who said he is in his
"late 50s," is officially retired, but you'd never know it if you
followed him around Newport-Mesa School District campuses.
"I retired last year from teaching, but the district asked me to come
back to continue the honors program (which he started six years ago at
Costa Mesa High)."
An aquatics guru, Cutler stayed close to the water once he returned to
the Southland. His father, George, was a Chrysler executive and accepted
a transfer from Whittier to Grosse Point, Mich., where Les attended high
school and became a three-time All-American swimmer.
At Iowa, Cutler was a four-time NCAA All-American swimmer, placing
second his senior year at the 1964 NCAA Championships in the 200-meter
Cutler, who later finished fourth at the U.S. Olympic trials in that
event, was introduced shortly thereafter to Bill Jewell, who taught
Cutler how to paddle a kayak around Newport Harbor and the Upper Newport
Working hard and picking up the skills of kayaking quickly, Cutler
became a training and competitive partner with Jewell and reached the
1968 Mexico City Olympic Games in the K-4.
Cutler made the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team in the K-1 after finishing
second at the trials, but was beckoned to join three others in a boat
(along with Jewell) at the Games.
When Cutler arrived in California after college, he accepted his first
teaching and coaching job for $5,289 a year at Long Beach Jordan, where
he lasted three years.
"Then I decided to take Ed Newland's advice and take the Estancia
position (as water polo and swimming coach)," said Cutler, who coached
the Eagles from their inception (1965) to 1993, when he transferred to
Cutler helped launch an integration program at Costa Mesa with
sophomore English and social studies students. "It's the only
(integration program) in the district," said Cutler, who teaches on a
part-time basis (two classes) at Costa Mesa, while continuing as a
lower-level aquatics coach at Newport Harbor under Bill Barnett.
Following his long coaching stint at Estancia, Cutler was asked by