Passages: Yale Coach Phil Moriarty, 98

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, August 20. LONGTIME Yale swimming and Hall of Fame coach Phil Moriarty passed away Saturday. He was 98 years old.

Phil Moriarty grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, in the shadows of Yale University Carnegie Pool. He was a self-described “pool rat” who occasionally trained as a high school swimmer under Yale's legendary coach Bob Kiphuth. He started out as a team towel boy and go-fer for Kiphuth and the Yale swimmers.

His first paid position came with the opening of the Kiphuth designed “Exhibition Pool” in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium, in 1932. In 1939 he was appointed as the assistant varsity swim coach. With Kiphuth's retirement in 1959, he took over and remained head coach until 1976. Although the Head Swim Coach for only 17 years, Moriarty handled the Yale divers for 37 years. His diving-coaching career climaxed when he was the U.S. Olympic Diving Coach in Rome (1960) after playing a major coaching role with Olympic Springboard Champions “Skippy” Browning (1952) and Bobby Clotworthy (1956).

As a swim coach, Moriarty turned out many world record holders and Olympic champions; Steve Clark, Don Schollander and John Nelson are included in that group. Moriarty was named 1971 NCAA Coach of the Year, and won the 1974 Fred Cady Diving Coaches Award. He was also inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, in 1980.

In 1969, the Yale Swimming Alumni established the Phil Moriaty Award to annually recognize a senior member of the team who has contributed immeasurably to the Yale swimming tradition by his dedication and personal achievement. Another Phil Moriarty Award was established in 1976 by the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Association to annually recognize the swimmer scoring the most points in the Eastern Seaboard Meet.

He authored two books: Springboard Diving, 1960 and Father and Son Swimming Book, 1970, wrote many articles about swimming. In his retirement years, he self-published several volumes of poetry and prose, stayed involved with the Yale Swimming Association, directing his energies towards fund raising to build a new facility for future Yale Swimmers and communicated with a large network of friends. He lived an active and independent life in Ft. Pierce, Florida until three weeks ago.

“Phil was still an active member of ISHOF's honoree selection committee,” said Bruce Wigo, who last spoke with Phil shortly before the start of the Olympic Games. “Every time I spoke with Phil I learned something. He was a living encyclopedia of swimming history and I will miss our conversations.”

“He was instrumental in teaching me how to be a mature, self-reliant swimmer–and both a gracious winner and a gracious loser,” said ISHOF honoree Steve Clark, 1960 & 1964 Olympian.

“Phil was always very kind to me … and I appreciated his friendship. He did so much for our beloved sport of swimming,” said ISHOF honoree and three-time Olympian Gary Hall, Sr.

Moriarty died on Sunday, shortly after being flown to his childhood and long-time “home” in Mystic, Connecticut, in the company of his children, Ellen and Richard.

Special thanks to ISHOF for contributing this report.

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Author: Archive Team

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