SwimmingA Look Back on Who the Swimming Community Lost

A Look Back on Who the Swimming Community Lost


In 2022, the swimming community lost several important figures. The sport won’t be the same without them, but their legacies live on.

Here is a look back and who we have lost. Click the link in each person’s name to read the full obituary and legacy of each person.

 

Passages: Sam Kendricks

Sam Kendricks, one of the main voices on deck at major swim meets in the United States over the last two decades, passed away in July after a nine-month battle with Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Kendricks discovered the cancer in September 2021 and had surgery to remove the mass, but the cancer had metastasized to his torso by December. He spent the last six months undergoing treatment for the disease.

Kendricks was the primary announcer for the NCAA Division I swimming championships over the last decade, and he was one of the primary voices for USA Swimming competitions for more than two decades. He was part of the announcing team at five Olympic Trials (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016). In addition, he worked as a residential realtor in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Before that, Kendricks was an undergraduate student manager for the University of Texas men’s team under coach Eddie Reese, including the first national-title-winning squad in 1981. He was later an assistant coach for the Texas women under Richard Quick from 1985 to 1987, and then he coached club teams in Arkansas for eight years. After leaving club coaching, he was asked to return to one of his old clubs to announce a meet, and his career in announcing took off from there.

As an announcer, Kendricks developed a signature style that brought excitement to crowds around all corners of the country. He reserved his primary catchphrase, “BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA,” for the most impressive of swims. As an announcer, Kendricks hoped to showcase each swimmer in a way that would make their experience at the meet as positive as possible.

“My goal is really just to highlight and find experiences and memories and spot situations that really accentuate what is great about that swimmer, that relay, that team, whatever it is, and remember that there are people in the stands that this means so much on behalf of that swimmer or diver that you want to give them as much as you can,” Kendricks told Swimming World earlier this year.

 

Photo Courtesy: Duke Athletics

Passages: Dan Colella

Duke head coach Dan Colella passed away Friday after a battle with cancer. Colella, who was the Blue Devils’ head coach since the 2005-06 season, was 60 years old.

The University announced his death in a press release Saturday afternoon. Colella is survived by his wife, Victoria, and children Henry, George, Ellinor and Caroline.

During Colella’s time at the school, Duke swimmers and divers collected 64 All-America honors and 24 ACC championships, and last year, the Duke women recorded their highest-ever finish at the ACC Championships with a fifth-place result — which was followed by a 24th-place finish at the NCAA Championships — while the men took 10th on the conference level. Duke swimmers set 10 school records last season, and every single school record was set during Colella’s time at the school, with the oldest mark dating back to 2010.

 

Passages: Harold Cliff

Harold Cliff, the Canadian sports administrator who helped turn U.S. Olympic team trials in Omaha into a whirlwind success, has died.

Cliff’s passing was first reported by Swimming Canada, for which that native of Victoria, British Columbia had worked for 12 years.

Cliff arrived in Nebraska just before the city was due to host its first of what would become four Olympic Trials in 2008. He was a big reason for their success, and his work with the Omaha Sports Commission solidified the city’s place as a premier destination for amateur sports. It also raised the level, in terms of spectator experience and commercial appeal, of the selection event for the U.S. Olympic swim team.

Cliff was recommended to the city by former USA Swimming assistant executive director Mike Unger in 2006. Cliff passed on the chance to run his third straight FINA World Championships, in Rome in 2009, to help Omaha get Trials off the ground.

The success continued for Omaha, with ticket sales exceeding 150,000 for the week-long event and an economic impact in the tens of millions of dollars becoming the norm. He stayed on through the 2016 Trials, which required Omaha to outbid several new cities, before at age 65 saying he was retiring to Ottawa, where his wife lived. But he was so drawn to the area that he stayed, becoming president of the Nebraska Multisport Complex, a $125 million project in La Vista. (That decade-long construction is still underway, with an opening slated in 2023.)

 

Passages: Werner Franke

Werner Franke, a German doctor who helped expose East Germany’s expansive state-sponsored doping program, has died.

Franke died of an intracerebral hemorrhage on Nov. 14 in Heidelberg. He was 82 years old.

Franke and his wife, Brigitte Berendonk, were central players in exposing the East German doping scheme that affected athletes like Berendonk, a shot putter and discus thrower who competed for the GDR in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics. Upon the fall of the Berlin Wall, Franke and his wife investigated documents from the unlocked secret files of the Stasi, the East German secret police. That included records smuggled from the Military Medical Academy in Bad Saarow.

That evidence documented State Plan 14:25, a systematic distribution of anabolic steroids to young athletes, particularly women, many without their consent or knowledge. The revelations comprised the 1991 book, written by Berendonk, Doping Documents: From Research to Fraud (In German, Doping Dokumente: Von der Forschung zum Betrug).

 

Passages: Don Sammons

Don Sammons, the former head coach of the University of Illinois swimming and diving team, died on Nov. 24. He was 90 years of age.

Sammons coached the Illinois men’s team from the 1971-72 through 1992-93. He was the head coach of the women’s team as well from 1980 through 1993 for a total of 35 seasons. He retired in 1993, when the university discontinued its men’s program.

Sammons coached seven All-Americans with the Illini. Seven swimmers won Big Ten titles, and he helped 46 swimmers qualify for NCAA championships.

 

skip-kenney

Photo Courtesy: Richard C. Ersted/Stanfordphoto.com

Passages: Skip Kenney

Skip Kenney, Stanford University’s iconic swim coach has died.

According to sources, Kenney died on Sunday night at age 79 after a short time in hospice care.

Kenney was one of the most successful college coaches of all time. He was also the head Olympic coach in 1996 in Atlanta and was an assistant coach on the 1988 and 1984 teams, coaching 18 Olympic swimmers who totaled 16 Olympic medals during his career.

At Stanford, he led the Cardinal to seven NCAA championships and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) in 2004, then in 2005, the American Swim Coaches Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Fresno Athletics and Stanford Athletics Halls of Fame.

 

Passages: Nachum Buch

Nachum Buch, the first swimmer to represent Israel at the Olympics, died on Nov. 7 in his home in Australia. He was 89 years of age.

Buch was a pioneer for Israeli swimming, representing the young nation at its first Olympics in 1952. He was the only swimmer among 25 athletes in that first delegation, and though he didn’t make it out of his head in the 100 freestyle at the Helsinki Olympics, he blazed a trail for many to follow.

 

Passages: Bob Treffene

Dr. Bob Treffene, a pioneer in the often complex world of sports science, was “a one of a kind” who helped transform the world of swimming.

Swimming in Australia, Great Britain and around the world is saddened in October with the passing of Dr Bob in Brisbane – aged 85.

A man who was at the very heartbeat of swimming, literally, for over five decades – the right hand man for so many elite coaches and world record holders.

Plotting and planning their programs alongside their coaches, as they plied their trade to give Australia’s swimmers the competitive edge through eras tarnished by illegal systematic doping that threatened to destroy the sport.

Bob tracked the careers of world record holders like Tracey Wickham, Jon Sieben and Duncan Armstrong, standing alongside Kieren Perkins and his coach the late John Carew and breaststroke whiz kids Rebecca Brown and Samantha Riley – giving them the edge.

 

Passages: Dante Dettamanti

The Stanford men’s water polo program mourns the loss of legendary head coach Dante Dettamanti, who passed away on Oct. 25. Dettamanti was 80.

“It’s hard to imagine any other coach having such a profound impact on their athletes, colleagues and community,” said The Dunlevie Family Director of Men’s Water Polo Brian Flacks. “Undoubtedly, Dante will go down as one of the all-time greats, but his impact was much greater than any win in the pool. He will be deeply missed.”

In his 25 years at Stanford (1977-2001), Dettamanti led the Cardinal to eight NCAA championships, advancing to the NCAA title game 14 times. One of five head coaches in Stanford Athletics history to capture at least eight national titles, Dettamanti became only the second collegiate coach in NCAA history to record over 600 career wins and the only collegiate coach to win NCAA championships in four different decades.

Named national coach of the year six times and league coach of the year on 10 occasions, Dettamanti also had great success on the international stage, coaching the USA World University Games teams to gold and silver medals in 1979 and 1981, the highest finish ever for a USA national team. Over a dozen of his former players went on to achieve success at the Olympics, including Stanford greats Jody Campbell, Wolf Wigo and Tony Azevedo.

 

Passages: Fred Phelps

Olympic champion Michael Phelps announced the death of his father Fred Phelps on social media.

You’ll always be my dad… And I’ll always be your son… Love you dad and I will miss you❤️❤️ rip dad,” Michael Phelps posted on Instagram.

 

Passages: Allan Wood

Australia has lost one of its unsung heroes from the 1960 and 1964 Olympic swim teams with the passing this week of Commonwealth Games freestyle gold medallist Allan Wood.

Aged 79, Allan passed away peacefully at John Flynn Private Hospital on the Gold Coast after a long battle with cancer.

The boy born in Wollongong would go on to become one of the best swimmers in the world – racing alongside the likes of Australian Olympic champions Murray Rose, Bob Windle and John Konrads and legendary Americans Don Schollander and Roy Saari.

 

Passages: Joe Bernal

Joe Bernal, who coached Olympians and had a successful stint at Harvard University before being banned for life by USA Swimming in 2016, has died.

Bernal’s death was confirmed by his family.

Bernal founded Bernal’s Gator Swim Club in Boston in the 1970s. Among his first notable pupils was Bobby Hackett, who won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500 freestyle at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal to go with Pan Am Games gold (and 400 free silver) in 1975.

Bernal coached at Harvard for 14 seasons from 1977-91, hired after a stint at at Fordham University from 1968-77. He posted a 123-19 record in Cambridge, including 106-16 in the Ivy League. He won seven consecutive league titles and finished no lower than third. The team’s best finish at the NCAA Championships in that time was 13th in 1979.

 

Passages: Arthur Lambert

Arthur Lambert, the Hall of Fame coach of the 1968 U.S. Olympic team, died on Aug. 26. Lambert was 86 years old. He died from complications of Parkinson’s disease.

On the international stage, he led Team USA to gold at the 1967 Pan Am Games. (As a player, he was an alternate for the Pan Am Games four years earlier.) Lambert coached the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, in which the Americans finished fifth. He earned a bronze medal at the 1972 Games in Munich as an assistant to Monte Nitzkowski. He also won an NCAA championship at Stanford.

 

 

passages-dick-jochums-Swimming World November 2020 - Toughest Workouts Part 1

Passages: Dick Jochums

Dick Jochums, the revered swimming coach who mentored some of America’s greatest stars over several generations, died on Aug. 19. He was 81 years old. Jochums was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2017.

Jochums had a hand in developing some of the best American swimmers from the 1960s into the 2000s. He placed a swimmer on every American delegation for a major international event from 1968 to 2006, with the lone exception of the 1996 Olympics. He coached swimmers who set 25 world records, won 12 Olympic medals (two golds) and was part of eight U.S. national teams as an assistant or head coach.

Among Jochums prized pupils are Tim Shaw, Steve Furniss and Bruce Furniss. Shaw, the 1975 James E. Sullivan Award winner as the nation’s top amateur athlete, concurrently held world records in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyle. Shaw, the Furniss brothers and Rex Favero set the world record in the 800 free relay in 1975, the last club team to set a world record. Seven of Jochums swimmers comprised the backbone of the dominant U.S. men’s team at the 1976 Olympics, including five (Shaw, Bruce Furniss, Dan Harrigan, Steve Gregg and Jack Babashoff) who won medals.

He also coached Bob Jackson and Greg Jagenburg, medal contenders before the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics, as well as two-time 1984 Olympic medalist George DiCarlo, Australian breaststroke Olympic medalist Peter Evans and Sydney Olympic medalist Tom Wilkens.

Jochums’ swimmers set seven NCAA records and 60 American records.

 

Passages: Brenda Fisher

Brenda Fisher, who gained international renown in the 1950s for crossing the English Channel, died on Aug. 2.

She was 95 years old. She suffered from complications of a stroke.

In 1951, the 23-year-old won the Channel Race, crossing from Cap Gris-Nez, France to Dover, England, in 12 hours and 42 minutes. That broke the women’s world record by 38 minutes. She crossed again in 1954, becoming the second woman ever to make two successful crossings. She is described by the Channel Swimming Association as “without doubt one of the true open-water pioneer swimmers of the 20th century.”

 

Passages: Lily Ernst

Lily Ernst, a swimmer at the University of Northern Iowa, passed away on July 27, the school announced.

Ernst was 21 years old. No cause was disclosed.

A native of Iowa City, Ernst was a rising junior at UNI. She was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection as a freshman and an MVC Scholar Athlete Team selection as a sophomore. She set the UNI record in the women’s 200 butterfly at 2:02.97 at the MVC Championships in February.

“Our team is incredibly saddened by the loss of Lily,” head swimming and diving coach Nick Lakin said in a university statement. “Lily was so filled with kindness and compassion for other people. She was a ferocious competitor in the pool and classroom, but for those that knew her best she was extremely empathetic and cared deeply about everyone in her life. We will all miss her immensely and are praying for everyone that knew her.”

 

Passages: Bill Woolsey

Olympic gold medalist Bill Woolsey died Saturday at 87. He was a legend of the sport as a swimmer and later as a coach.

In 1952, Helsinki Games, the Hawaiian native was part of the U.S. Olympic gold medal winning 4 x 200 meter relay team. He also competed in the 1500 freestyle that year.

“He was super humble, ” grandson Ikaika Woolsey, a former University of Hawaii quarterback, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “He didn’t really talk too much. He taught people to be humble and let your actions speak, and everything else will take care of itself.”

Woolsey traveled with the U.S. Swim team took him to Bermuda in 1953, Mexico in 1954 and Japan in 1955, all while dominating at home, claiming the AAU national championships in the 200 freestyle for three consecutive years, from 1954-56.

 

Passages: Gary Winram

Australia has lost one of its greatest ever swim-surf stars, 1956 Olympian and 1958 Commonwealth Games medallist, Gary Winram, who has passed away peacefully on the Sunshine Coast. Gary was 85.

Winram went on to carve a successful career as one of the Australian swimming’ s most respected Olympic, Commonwealth Games and World Championship level coaches.

 

Passages: Dick Fadgen

Richard Dennis “Dick” Fadgen, an NCAA champion and American record-holder before a long coaching career, died on May 7 at age 86.

Born in Rhode Island, Fadgen made a long career in the South, as a distinguished swimmer at NC State, then as a coach at the University of Memphis.

Fadgen was a six-time All-American at NC State, graduating in 1958. He won NCAA titles in the 200 breast and 200 fly at NCAAs in 1956, just the second and third in program history. He’s also one of just 11 Wolfpack swimmers to win American championships, winning seven in total across all sanctioning bodies (NCAA, AAU, etc.).

 

Passages: Jim Puleo

Jim Puleo, who coached swimming at all levels, and all over the world, has died. He was the Panama Olympic swimming coach in 2000. Puleo died in April at age 67 after suffering a pulmonary edema, which led to cardiac arrest, following heart surgery on Tuesday, according to a news release.

Jim Puleo was born in Philadelphia and had a long, distinguished coaching career, which took him around the world. He graduated from Arizona State University before becoming the age group coach for the Glendale Gauchos. He went on to take over the Tempe Makos Swim Team from 1974-79. Meanwhile, Puleo was a teacher at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Arizona.

 

Passages: Hobie Billingsley

Hobie Billingsley, a 1983 International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Diving Coach, and one of the most beloved diving coaches of a generation, passed away early this morning, July 16, 2022. He was 94. Hobie was the head diving coach at Indiana University for 30 years, spanning 1959 to 1989, alongside swimming coach, Dr. James “Doc” Counsilman.” The two legends made aquatic history together, guiding a program to elite status. During Billingsley’s tenure at IU, his divers won six NCAA and 23 Big Ten team championships. He coached individuals to an astounding 115 national titles, 22 Big Ten championships and six Olympic medals. His ISHOF Honorees (four) and Olympic gold and bronze medalists include Lesley Bush, Mark Lenzi, Kenny Sitzburger, Cynthia Potter, Win Young, and Jim Henry.

Billingsley began his career as an outstanding diver in his own right, competing under the great ISHOF Honor Coach, Mike Peppe, at Ohio State University. He was an All-American on both boards in 1945, yet following his freshman year at Ohio State, Billingsley joined the Army Air-Corps, where he served his country in Japan. Upon returning, he returned to Indiana and again won All-America Honors in 1948, 1949 and 1950.

 

Passages: Yevhen Obedinsky

Yevhen Obedinsky, a former captain of the Ukrainian men’s water polo team, was killed on March 17 in the Russian-led siege of Mariupol.

Obedinsky was 39 years old. Per reports in Ukraine, his 12-year-old daughter Kira Obedinsky was taken to Russian occupied Donetsk, where she was treated for minor shrapnel wounds. An international campaign is being carried out to return Kira to the custody of her grandfather.

 

Passages: Joan (Langdon) McLagan

Canadian Olympic swimmer Joan (Langdon) McLagan died on March 15 at age 99. She was one of only two surviving Olympians from the 1936 Berlin Games.

The death was first reported by Olympedia via the Oldest Olympians project. McLagan is believed to be the second-to-last surviving athlete from the 1936 Games, leaving only American swimmer Iris Cummings. (Coincidentally, both swam the same event in Berlin.)

 

Passages: Tom Maine

International Masters Swimming Hall of Famer Tom Maine, 96, of Carbondale, died on Sunday, Feb, 27, 2022, at the Cottages of Lake St. Louis.

He swam to 27 FINA Masters World Records, though not starting his masters career until age 70. He was elected to the U.S. Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2016.

Thomas Orin Maine was born Sept.4, 1925, to Ralph and Bernice (Thomas) Maine in St. Louis. After his birth, his family moved to Des Moines, Iowa. He graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in June of 1943.

 

Passages: Sydney Benveniste

Sydney Benveniste, a sophomore on Azusa Pacific’s women’s swimming and diving team, died this week.

The university confirmed the death on Wednesday with a statement of condolences. No cause of death or confirmed date of Benveniste’s passing is listed.

“On behalf of Azusa Pacific University, the athletics department, and swim & dive program, our thoughts and prayers are with the Benveniste family following the tragic death of their daughter Sydney,” read the statement by APU Director of Athletics Gary Pine.

 

Passages: Aleksandr Sidorenko

Aleksandr Sidorenko, the Olympic champion in the men’s 400 individual medley at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, died on Feb. 20 at the age of 61. Reports out of his native Ukraine indicate the cause of death as complications from COVID-19.

Sidorenko (or Oleksandr Sydorenko, in the Russian spelling) was born in what is now Ukraine in 1960. He became an elite swimmer in his mid-teens, winning a bronze medal in the men’s 200 IM at the European Championships in 1977, representing the Soviet Union.

 

Passages: Don Lemiuex

Longtime club and high school coach Don Lemieux, whose pupils include Olympic gold medalist Samantha Arsenault, died on Saturday, Jan. 29. He was 65 years old.

Lemieux was a much-respected coach in Massachusetts. He coached Gardner High School to 16 state championships, including 15 consecutive titles from 1994-2008. He was also the head coach of Greenwood Swimming, where he mentored 16 qualifiers for U.S. Olympic Trials and helped dozens of swimmers get to college.

Arsenault, who swam at the University of Michigan and the University of Georgia and won a gold medal in the 800 freestyle relay for the U.S. at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was the best known of the group.

 

Passages: Jack Steck

Missouri State University Athletics is mourning the loss of long-time swimming and diving head coach Jack Steck who passed away on Friday, Jan. 28, at the age of 80.

Steck coached both the Missouri State men’s and women’s programs, guiding the men for 29 seasons from 1983 to his retirement in 2012. He started the women’s program in 1998 and was the program’s only head coach in the program’s first 14 years of existence. He is one of just four people in Missouri State athletics history to coach men’s and women’s teams in one sport at the same time.

 

Passages: Bill Boomer

Bill Boomer, a long-time swim coach and a well-regarded expert on stroke technique, died suddenly at his home on Jan. 9. He was 84 years old.

Bill Boomer was the head swim coach of the University of Rochester from 1962-90. He compiled a 168-107 record in charge of the Yellow Jackets, winning four consecutive New York State Championships from 1984-87. He tutored 57 swimmers who earned 118 All-America awards. In 1988, Boomer was recognized with the College Swim Coaches Association’s 25-Year Distinguished College Swimming Coach award. The CSCAA in 2014 bestowed upon him the Benjamin Franklin Award for his impact on stroke technique.

 

Passages: Francois Carrard

Former International Olympic Committee (IOC) Director General Francois Carrard passed away on Sunday in Lausanne at the age of 83.

Carrard was the first to hold the position in 1989, a full decade after entering the Olympic Movement as a legal advisor, and remained in position until 2003.

“I am so grateful that the entire Olympic Movement and I could count on him until his very last days,” IOC President Thomas Bach told the Sports Intern Olympic News Digest and International Inside Sports Newsletter.Francois Carrard also served under two other IOC presidents, Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge, during his tenure. During the Samaranch administration, Carrard also served as spokesperson of the IOC Executive Board.

 

Passages: Chen Wen

British Swimming has announced the death of diving coach, Chen Wen, aged 80, in January, who worked with the national team across the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

One of the pioneering coaches of the modern era, Chen joined the British Diving programme as a national coach in 2003, notably working with Leon Taylor ahead of his Olympic silver medal alongside Peter Waterfield in the 10m synchro at Athens 2004.

 

Passages: Ann Lallande

Ann Lallande, who represented Puerto Rico at continental competitions and the 1964 Olympic Games, died on Dec. 19, 2021, after complications from surgery. She was 72 years old.

Her death was confirmed by family this week. Lallande, who also went by Anita Lallande when she competed, won 17 swimming medals at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, the most ever by a Puerto Rican swimmer. Puerto Rican Swimming Federation president Fernando Delgado Sellas called Lallande one of the “pioneers of our sport.

Lallande was born in San Juan and began swimming at age eight at Caparra Country Club. She began competing internationally at age 13.

At 15, she was one of only two female athletes to represent the island at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Both were swimmers, together with Margaret Harding, to become the first Olympic swimmers in Puerto Rican history. Lallande swam the 100-meter freestyle, 400 freestyle and 100 butterfly, not escaping the heats in any event. Her best result was a fifth-place finish in her seven-swimmer heat of the 400.





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