AUBURN, Alabama, January 14. AUBURN's Director of Swimming Operations Ralph Crocker passed away this morning after fighting with cancer diagnosed in October of 2005. He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Margaret, and their teenage daughter Cameron. Crocker's family and his extended Auburn family have Swimming World Magazine's condolences.
During Crocker's seven full seasons with Auburn, the Tigers' programs won a combined eight NCAA and 10 SEC Championships while posting a dual meet record of 102-3.
"We are extremely saddened by Ralph's passing," said Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. "He was a vital part of the Auburn swimming and diving program and athletics department, but more importantly, he was a devoted husband, father and friend, and an outstanding member of the Auburn community. He impacted countless people's lives and will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ralph's wife Margaret, daughter Cameron and extended family."
Crocker coached 82 swimmers to 660 All-American honors, and during his tenure eight distance freestyle swimmers won a combined 10 NCAA and SEC individual event crowns.
"Ralph is a beloved member of the Auburn swim team and community, and in many ways represents all things that are right about the Auburn experience as a student, coach, and mentor to young people," said Director of Competitive Aquatics David Marsh. "He has profoundly impacted Auburn and its people in tremendous ways. He will continue to live in the many people that he has touched, including myself."
As an assistant at Auburn, Crocker had extensive experience working with all groups, but primarily the distance group, or as they fondly call it, "Ralph's House of Pain (RHOP)."
The success of RHOP was very evident at the 2003 NCAA and SEC Women's Championships as the all-star quartet of Margaret Hoelzer, Heather Kemp, Kirsty Coventry and Bowen not only won the 800 free relay at each, but did so with a new SEC, NCAA and U.S. Open record.
Prior to Auburn, Crocker was the head swimming coach at Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for seven years before becoming the head coach for Greater Pensacola Aquatic Club for four years. At Pensacola, Crocker had six senior national qualifiers and an Olympic Festival Gold medalist. While at Pine Crest he had two Olympians and one world record holder. His junior national team won two national titles and a national high school championship.
Crocker swam for Auburn from 1972-75 and was a member of the 1975 NCAA team. In 1977, Crocker earned a bachelor of science in psychology at Auburn.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Auburn United Methodist Church. Visitation will follow the service at the church.