Haines was born in Huntington, Indiana, and became interested in swimming after joining the local YMCA, where he won two YMCA championships. After moving to California, he founded the Santa Clara Swim Club in 1950. It started out as a thirteen-member swim club located in the old Santa Clara High School. This club soon became a training ground for competitive swimmers from all over the United States. He coached for twenty-three years, leaving Santa Clara in 1973. During his stay at Santa Clara, he coached 26 future Olympians, including Mark Spitz, Don Schollander and Claudia Kolb.
From 1974 to 1978, Haines coached the UCLA men's swimming team. In 1982, Haines became the women's swimming coach at Stanford University, coaching the team to an NCAA championship in 1983 as well as two second-places finishes and two third-place finishes.
He left Santa Clara in 1973, and retired from coaching swimming in 1988. In 2001, Haines was going to have a grand reunion with some of the club's former champion swimmers. However, the reunion was postponed because he suffered a stroke, which incapacitated him for the rest of his life. He died in a nursing home in Carmichael, California on May 1, 2006. He was married for 60 years to June Carter Haines, and the couple had five children. A bronze statue of Haines now stands next to the Olympic-size pool at the Santa Clara Swim Center.