#30MostSwimfluential: Ray Essick

Ray Essick

Who is Ray Essick?

  • Former head coach at Southern Illinois University, producing 21 All-Americans
  • Former head coach at Harvard University
  • Served as National Competitive Swimming Administrator for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)
  • Joined USA Swimming upon its founding in 1980
  • Served as USA Swimming’s first Executive Director, 1980-1997
  • 1997 recipient of the Good Neighbor Award, one of highest honors given to outstanding volunteers by the American Red Cross
  • 1998 recipient of USA Swimming Award
  • 2015 American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) Hall of Fame honoree

 How has he influenced the swimming community?

It’s hard to believe there was a time when USA Swimming did not exist, and swimming in the United States was an AAU sport. Ray Essick headed up the Swimming Committee for the AAU, and then became part of the revolutionary era which saw the founding of USA Swimming. Essick relocated from Indianapolis to Colorado Springs in 1980 to begin his 17-year tenure as the executive director of the newly created USA Swimming. ASCA says it all in Essick’s Hall of Fame bio– “Ray took USA Swimming from an organization in a shoebox, to the finest National Governing Body in all of Olympic Sport.” Essick built USA Swimming into a structure which supports its National Team athletes wholeheartedly, and strives daily to maintain the coveted spot Team USA has held for decades as the best swim team in the world.

*USA Swimming and Speedo invited the swimming community to help celebrate their 30 years of partnership by voting for the “30 Most Influential People in Swimming Over the Past 30 Years.” Votes were cast through social media with the hashtag #30MostSwimfluential and the final vote came from a panel of 10 judges selected by USA Swimming and Speedo. All 30 nominees have had a powerful impact on the swimming community. Many are recognizable names, but some have remained unsung heroes of the sport. Swimming World will profile each swimfluential person over the course of the week.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x