SwimmingTexas Coaching Legend Lanny Landtroop Dies at 81

Texas Coaching Legend Lanny Landtroop Dies at 81


Texas Coaching Legend Lanny Landtroop Dies at 81; Wife, Sandra, Shares Beautiful Remembrance

Andrew “Lanny” Landtroop, the winningest coach in Texas high school history, died on August 7 at the age of 81. His career spanned five high schools, most notably Clear Lake and Kingwood, and he compiled an astonishing dual-meet record of 543-15-2. Under the guidance of Landtroop, his teams won 67 district championships and 16 state championships and three Swimming World Magazine national titles.

Landtroop also led two teams to state water polo crowns and he was named Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Coach of the Year 18 times. He was inducted into the NISCA Hall of Fame and served as NISCA’s president from 2011-13 and spoke at numerous clinics around the nation. He was named the Texas High School Coach of the 20th Century.

Landtroop’s wife, Sandra, shared this remembrance of her husband on his brithday, Aug. 8, and gave permission to Swimming World to share it with our readership.

Today is my Lanny’s birthday, a fine day, I think, to celebrate the life he made. The scores of tributes, expressions of appreciation, and messages of deep affection from so many swimmers, students, coaching colleagues, family members, and friends old and new are evidence of the person he became. We are so very grateful for every one of your communications about and remembrances of an extraordinary man.

But he was also the freckle-faced, red-headed little boy with me in Mrs. Howard’s first grade classroom, an all-boy who loved to bike to the Texas City dike to fish with his buddies; to play basketball, baseball, and football with equal measures of abandon and joy; to explore his world, bringing home snakes and other critters to observe. (That last one was problematic for his mother and sisters!)

He was also an eager teen Eagle Scout aspirant who fashioned by hand a Native American dance costume (bustle, headdress, and all) and learned with fellow Scouts native dances to perform at powwows. Unsurprisingly, mothers of daughters who sought permission to attend a party often asked if Lanny would be there, granting permission if the answer were yes. A dear friend relates a story from those teen years about him stripping to his skivvies, again on the dike, and jumping into the bay to help a struggling swimmer. He’s also the teenage boy who, with his cousin, taught swim lessons to African-American children at their pool when officials denied those kids could have lessons at the “white” pool. Pretty evident where this fellow was headed. I remember him from those days as the very nicest boy, full of joy and fun, and decency.

Being with the adult Lanny was for me like basking in sunshine, so much so I’d bring my school work to swim meets just to be in the bleachers watching him coach while I tried to learn the sport and be more a part of the exceptional culture he created. But, make no mistake, storm clouds could quickly overtake the sunshine when he sensed meanness, cruelty, or injustice.

His enthusiasm for his profession and his swimmers and students was impossible to resist, but he also had such a deep interest in the world and its people. He read and read, and retained amazing amounts of information, one of the most protean thinkers I’ve known. In his retirement he put those skills to great use by devising a devastating smoked pulled pork!

I know by now you can tell that I am his most ardent fan and admirer. But there was so much to appreciate and, truly, to love. The estimable virtues that imbued his character—quiet confidence (never arrogance), moral and physical courage, curiosity, loyalty, commitment, kindness, and decency—never overshadowed his humanity. No priggishness, no self-righteousness, no false superiority marred his goodness.

He also adored his parents, sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins, without reservation. But the light of his life was his son Jason, his boon traveling companion, ardent swim team cheerleader/mascot, and all-around fan. Later, my own children were warmly embraced by his love and concern. I’m so grateful for his presence in Stephen, Michael, and Cathy’s lives. As our family grew, Jason’s Kat, Mike’s Brandy, and Cathy’s Jimmy also became part of our circle. And then—those grandchildren, who simply adored him and were adored by him. Madeleine, Brooke, Summer, and Avery, “Lanny’s Little Sweethearts,” dressed him up, doctored him with bandaids and gauze, danced recitals in the den for him, sought babydoll-sitting duties and advice about Barbie’s latest outfit. Alex, whom he named, and Andrew, who bears his name, loved his big hugs and great corny jokes. But so did we all.

We shared a truly fine life together, even in the face of his three cancers. He was stoic and determined, upbeat and positive, through every test, surgery, treatment—a wonder to witness. He was ever concerned about the effect it was having on me, and I used him as my model for strength and optimism. Recently, he ordered for me a pandemic surprise, an elegant, deep red cashmere shawl. It strikes me now as a fitting image of his love and concern for me, always so warm and comforting and present.

We will all miss our Lanny so very much, but his love and remarkable character will sustain us. His example will guide us. His goodness and decency will remind us what a human being can be, and thus, of what we must strive to be. His own dear departed dad would proudly say of his exceptional son, that he was “simply great.”

Many of you have asked for a way to honor his life. I know he would “dance at your wedding or anniversary” if you’d join us in contributing to the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. I hope we can joyfully celebrate Lanny’s life in the future with a suitably inclusive gathering so many of you have indicated you’d like. Our family is currently very hesitant to provide any kind of harbor for this dreadful virus, so we’ll seek a safer time.





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