Column: With Final Year Ahead, Coach Eddie Reese Heads Into Retirement As Legend of the Sport

Eddie Reese -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Eddie Reese Secured Status as Generational Coach Long Before His Final Season

When longtime Texas men’s coach Eddie Reese first announced his retirement in 2021, Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte noted that Reese had won titles during the administrations of six different U.S. Presidents. Del Conte  actually misspoke; Reese’s 2021 win made it seven, with his first coming all the way back in 1981, a 60-point win over UCLA mere months after Ronald Reagan entered the White House.

Two-and-a-half years ago, two days after the Longhorns clinched their 15th national team title, Reese announced plans to continue coaching through the upcoming Olympic Trials before stepping aside. But following that meet, Reese chose to stay. “There’s more that I want to do for this current team,” he said at the time.

Well, that’s exactly what happened. Texas has not earned another national title in the two seasons since, with the team ending up second to Cal on the national level in 2022 and third — low for Texas but still elite — in 2023, but the Longhorns have continued to produce elite performers under the leadership of Reese and associate head coach Wyatt Collins. Carson Foster has blossomed as the top individual medley swimmer in the United States. Luke Hobson is now among the top 200 freestylers. Drew KiblerCoby Carrozza and David Johnston have all been World Championships qualifiers within the past two years. Reese has joined the U.S. coaching staff at both the 2022 and 2023 editions of the World Champs.

Now, Reese is retiring again, this time surely for real, with the culmination of an Olympic cycle marking the perfect time for a coach of his caliber to step aside, allowing the Longhorn men’s program to rebuild in the image of a new coach with plenty of time to build for the 2028 Olympic cycle.

Simply, Reese has been extremely successful at the task which every swim coach accomplishes: making swimmers faster. Perhaps others at the peak of the sport give more detailed and complicated messages, but on so many occasions after major victories, Reese has touched on the simple goal that is at the heart of the sport, all while speaking in a tone that somehow made everyone in the room understand the sport and even life just a little bit more.

That’s who the Texas coach has always been, a brilliant swimming mind and a man worthy of widespread respect from all corners of the swimming community, even from the Longhorns’ rivals, a respect earned certainly for the coaching but also the many “Eddie-isms” shared on deck over the years.


Eddie Reese — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Remember, Reese has not spent the back half of his career simply coasting on the accomplishments from early on. Reese captured his first national title in 1981, and then came a four-year run from 1988 through 1991. That was followed by a three-year stretch from 2000 through 2002, with breaststroker Brendan Hansen and butterfly specialist Ian Crocker starring, and then the Ricky Berens/David Walters-led team of 2010 rebounded from a slew of norovirus infections to clinch a title.

Texas then again four-peated from 2015 through 2018, winning the first three of those titles with drubbings of No. 2 Cal before edging out the Golden Bears in 2018. The stars of those teams included Joseph Schooling, Jack Conger, Will Licon, Townley Haas and Clark Smith. After a brief hiatus, Texas returned to the top in 2021. In addition to the wins, Texas also has 13 runnerup finishes, and the team has not finished lower than third on the national level since 2008.

Add that up, and Reese is surely the greatest swim coach of this generation. Sounds controversial? Well, not really, not when Reese has been so good for so long on the collegiate level and he has guided so many talented swimmers to international glory.

Few have enjoyed the privilege of Reese’s wisdom and humor like Collins, who swam at Texas and has coached there for a decade, with three seasons as a volunteer assistant before he took over as full-time assistant (later associate head coach) when Kris Kubik retired in 2016.

“He can impart wisdom to you in any situation, whether it’s sitting on the bleachers, in a pool, on a plane, whether it’s in an airport, in the weight room, out to dinner, in a car ride, and it can seemingly come out of nowhere, sometimes,” Collins said in 2017. “You might be talking hamburgers, and he drops a nugget on you where it’s like, wow, that just shook my world. Usually, you walk away with a little more experience than when you sat down with him. That’s why he’s Eddie Reese. That’s why there’s never going to be anyone like him. We’re all better for having him in our lives.”

With those words, Collins may as well be speaking for everyone in the circle of American swimming. This time, Reese’s retirement is likely for good, but before that, one more group of men will join the long list of swimmers who owe Reese their gratitude for his coaching during a Hall-of-Fame career at Texas.

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