ATHENS, GA – University of Georgia’s most decorated swimmer, Lisa Coole, died Saturday morning in a car accident in Champaign, Ill.
A native of Rockford, Ill., Coole graduated from the University of Georgia in the spring of 1997 with a pre-veterinary degree and had just completed her first year in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois.
“This is the saddest thing imaginable,” said Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle. “Lisa was a wonderful, talented and motivated young woman. It’s still a bit of a shock, but of course our first thoughts go out to her family. I feel blessed that Lisa was at Georgia with us for the time that she was.”
Coole’s accomplishments on the collegiate level extended from the pool to the classroom and throughout the community. In January, she received the NCAA Today’s Top VIII Award, an honor bestowed upon graduated senior student-athletes based on athletic ability and achievement, on academic achievement and on character, leadership and activities. She also received the 1997 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, the highest honor given to a female student-athlete in intercollegiate athletics.
During her four-year career at the University of Georgia, Coole maintained a 3.62 GPA in her studies as a Foundation Fellow and member of the Honors Program. She collected 19 All-America honors and 7 Honorable Mention distinctions for the largest All-America tally in Lady Bulldog swimming history and was a two-time NCAA champion, winning as part of the 200-yard free relay in 1995 and again in the 100-yard fly in 1996. Coole volunteered for the Athens area homeless shelter and Salvation Army and was recognized as one of Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women for 1996-97. She was a four-time College Swim Coaches of America Academic All-American, and as co-captain of the Lady Bulldogs in 1997, Coole led Georgia to its first Women’s Southeastern Conference Team title.
Coole’s commitment to excellence continued in her postgraduate career, where she had garnered respect from her fellow students and faculty.
“Lisa was an outstanding young woman and an entirely marvelous person,” said Victor Valli, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois. “She was quiet and unassuming despite all her achievements. It’s a tragedy on graduation weekend, that this is something she won’t ever be able to share in.”