NORTHRIDGE, California, November 7. MORE than 200 swimmers, coaches and friends of Pete Accardy gathered last weekend at the California State University Northridge Campus Pool to honor the longtime head coach of the Matador swim program, who passed away in July at age 72 after battling cancer.
In 24 years as head coach, Accardy led the Cal State Northridge men’s team to nine NCAA Division II national championships (1975, 1977-1979, 1981-1985). He also coached the women’s team for 15 seasons, leading them to NCAA Division II championships in 1982 and from 1987-1989. Accardy retired from coaching in 1993 after producing more than 300 NCAA Division II All-Americans, including 12-time NCAA champion Michelle Hampton.
Several of Accardy’s former swimmers and colleagues attended the memorial, including former Cal State Northridge head football coach and athletic director Sam Winningham, former head basketball coach Pete Cassidy, Accardy’s former assistant coach Joel Barr, current athletic director Dr. Brandon Martin, and others.
“Pete lived his life to the fullest,” said former athletic director and head baseball coach Bob Hiegert. “He enjoyed life. Swimming was a big part of his life. His swimmers were a part of his family. If he said at the beginning of the year the team was going to be pretty good, that meant they were going to win the national championship. Pete was a great teacher, a great motivator. I think the genius of Pete was that he got every swimmer to PR [personal record] by the end of the season.”
Accardy and his wife, Barbara, moved to Del Mar, Calif. in 1993, where they maintained a stable of more than 75 thoroughbred race horses. Following his passage this summer, a few races at the Del Mar Racetrack were named in his honor.
“Pete was the best,” said his wife, Barbara. “He was caring, considerate, loyal and honest as the day is long. Pete was somebody that people respected. He always viewed success as a swim coach as a team effort. The kids did the work. He just happened to be along for the ride. He could point out things that would bring out the best in everybody.”