Legendary Water Polo Coach Monte Nitzkowski Passes Away

Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

Monte Nitzkowski passed away Thursday night. The legendary water polo coach at Long Beach City College and with the U.S. National Water Polo team was considered the most innovative coach in the sport’s history.

Nitzkowski coached the 1972 Olympic team to a bronze medal and the 1984 squad to a silver. In 1980, the U.S. men’s Olympic team was a gold medal favorite but was stymied by the Jimmy Carter boycott of the Games.

He also swam the 200 breaststroke in the 1952 Olympics.

In recognition of his successes, Nitzkoski has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. Later this summer, he will also become an inaugural member of the Aquatic Capital of American Hall of Fame.

USA Water Polo’s annual Distinguished Men’s Coaching Award (Elite) is also named in Nitzkowski’s honor.

His recognition to the International Swimming Hall of Fame notes, “His love and support for water polo has made an impact on every player with whom he has come in contact.”




  1. avatar
    David Hart

    So very, very sad to hear this news. A wonderful man and a brilliant water polo mind.
    I had the pleasure to compete against Monte in 1972, 1979/80 and 1984.
    As an outsider, from another country (Canada) I feel Monte was one of American Water Polo’s greatest
    ambassadors. He was a dear friend and a great coach, someone I learned a great deal from and admired very much. My condolences go to all members of his family.
    David Hart

  2. avatar
    Ernie Campbell

    Sad Sad day for the entire water polo community. You were such a wonderful coach, friend, and mentor. The days I spent in the water with you as my coach are days I will truly remember. RIP Monte.
    Thoughts and prayers go out to your entire family.

  3. avatar
    Doug D'Arnall

    Had to go up against Monte’s LBCC teams in the fifties while playing water polo with OCC. Became great friends with Monte over the years. He had his beach concession (Vic’s) right next door to LG HDQ. , and we spent several late afternoons body surfing when the swell was up. He was a true innovator in swimming and water polo and my prayers are with his family.

  4. avatar
    Richard Byyny

    Monty was a good man and a great coach. I played for him at LBCC in 1957 prior to playing and swimming at USC. He also encouraged me in my journey to become an academic physician. I talked with him periodically. He also mentored my two grandsons, Brandon and Zachary D’Sa, in their pursuits in water polo and selection of Universities. He was a legend in his time. We will all miss him and I want to express my condolences to his family.

  5. avatar
    Eric Lamhofer

    My dad was a good friend of Monte’s, and I have fond memories of my childhood years hanging out at Huntington Beach with our families in front of Vic’s. Great guy, and what a coach and player. Thoughts and prayers to his family.

  6. avatar
    Chris Hayward, New Zealand

    So sad to hear. I used to always visit his legendary shack at Huntingdon when I was in town! His writings and water polo manuals have inspired fans the world over. May he rest in peace!

  7. avatar

    Monte was a legend and the nicest friend you could ever hope for.
    My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  8. avatar
    David DeGrazia

    I swam at Long Beach City College from 1980-1982 under the coaching of Dennis “Foz” Fosdick, while Money coached water polo. Two great men we respected and will miss. God bless both of your families!
    David DeGrazia, breaststroke and I.M.

  9. avatar
    Gregg Wilczynski

    On June 23, 2016, Mr. Nitzkowski was inducted into the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame. His accomplishments and Polish American representation at the Olympics, and his teaching and coaching thereafter were admired by over 450 guests. We will always be proud to have Mr. Nitzkowski as one of the newest inductees into the Hall of Fame.
    Gregg Wilczynski

  10. avatar
    Debbie Simek

    My prayers to his entire family. Loss of Monte will be felt across the entire water polo community. He was a wonderful friend, coach and mentor. It was always great to run into him near his beach kitchen over the years in HB too. He will be missed. My condolences to his family all who were blessed to know him.

  11. avatar
    David Hobbs

    I atteneded a coaching clinic of Monte’s in British Columbia, Canada in the 80’s, and a number of his philosophies that he espoused I utilize in my coaching to this day in basketball, soccer, as well as football. It was only a week clinic but he made a HUGE impression on me. I wish I had the opportunity to know him better. I am so sorry to read about his passing.

  12. avatar
    Leslie Pontious-Pope

    Monte was my swimming coach at Jimmy Smith’s Swim Club. He spoke at my Rotary Club in 2005. My deepest sympathies to his family. I always admired Monte and am so sorry to hear of his passing.