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Passages: International Masters Swimming Hall of Famer Ron Johnson -- August 8, 2009

PHOENIX, Arizona, August 8. INTERNATIONAL Masters Swimming Hall of Famer Ron Johnson passed away earlier this morning. Initial reports from sources close to the situation indicate that Johnson's death was self-inflicted.

Johnson had a storied career with in the sport of swimming. He was inducted into the Masters wing of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2007, and was named the U.S. Masters Swimming Coach of the Year in 1999. As a coach, Johnson led 28 swimmers into Olympic finals with 14 of them medaling.

Johnson coached the women's teams at Arizona State to two national championships and a couple of runner-up finishes. He also coached talented swimmers on the men's team there. Johnson had transitioned well into the Masters swimming realm, setting more than 50 world records.


Swimming World sends its condolences to Johnson's family and friends. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.


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August 8, 2009 I'm saddened to hear of Ron's passing. I was introduced to Ron by Eric Freed (Arek Fressadi), a former swimmer of his at Gates Academy in Cleveland back in 1991, while I was transitioning into full-time coaching. Ron had both a vigorous mind AND body---he kicked my rear-end on a mountain bike riding trek along Murphy's Trail in N. Scottsdale/Carefree. Throughout the ride, he provided fantastic points and counterpoints within the swimming world, helping this young pup connect the proverbial dots. His dual example made an indelible impression; our swimming universe is worse off with his loss.
Submitted by: petersczupak
August 8, 2009 On behalf of the SDSA Board, we are very saddened by the passing of Ron Johnson. He was not just a coach - but a mentor, educator, author, friend, husband, and father. Ron was bigger than life - his swimmers nicknamed him "The Rock" and after suffering 5 heart attacks you could still find him at Masters practice getting a few laps in. Some of us were lucky enough to be coached by Ron at Arizona State or in his Masters program and will never forget that experience and the positive mark it left on all our lives. He was very involved in supporting ASU Men's Swimming and last fall at our fundraiser, after the team had been saved by alumni and other supporters, we personally thanked him for creating a bunch of passionate swimmers that could not let the program die. He told us it was one of the happiest days of his life - we are glad he was there to witness it. Thanks for the memories Coach Ron - rest in peace.
Submitted by: Sun Devil Swimming Association
August 12, 2009 As one of Ron's first swimmers, I must admit to being at a loss for words. Ron came to Lakewood (Ohio) High School in 1959 as swim coach and Spanish teacher (his first 'full time' coaching job I believe) and I was a senior on his team in 1961. He left Lakewood in 1961 but left behind a boys team that won the Ohio State High School Championships in 1962 (the last time Lakewood has won this meet). What an impact he had in such a short time and as a young coach. I credit him in large part with motivating me to coach for about 20 years due to the love of the sport that he had instilled in all of us back then.
David Abineri
Submitted by: dabineri
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