Passages: Richard Thornton, 1980 Olympian and Accomplished Coach, Dies at 65

Richard Thornton

Passages: Richard Thornton, 1980 Olympian and Accomplished Coach, Dies at 65

A well-respected national-level swimmer and coach passed away Thursday. Richard Thornton was the head coach of San Ramon Valley Aquatics and a member of the U.S. Olympic team for the boycotted 1980 Games. Thornton’s brother Marc shared news of the passing in a Facebook post: “Sorry for having to share this information, but Richard Thornton passed away surfing today at The Hook in Santa Cruz. Doing what he loved. More to follow, but wanted to let everyone know.”

Richard Thornton, 65, was the son of the late Nort Thornton, the longtime head men’s swimming coach at Cal who died in 2021. Thornton swam under his father with the Golden Bears before graduating from Berkeley and going on to found San Ramon Valley Aquatics in 1984. Thornton went on to coach Olympic and World Championship finalists as well as future NCAA All-Americans at SRVA, and he was a member of U.S. National Team coaching staffs on several occasions in the 1990s.

The list of swimmers who trained under Thornton’s watch at SRVA included multi-time Olympic champion Matt Biondi, a star in the sprint events for the United States at the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympics, as well as Brazilian Olympian and Pan American Games medalist Henrique Barbosa and American national-level swimmers Andy Grant and Sarah Anderson, both of whom later swam at Stanford.

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robert kravutske
robert kravutske
1 month ago

cal lost a great soul……the old man in 2021 and now richard……rip…..

Sandy MacDonald
Sandy MacDonald
1 month ago

Richard was an outstanding person and swim coach. I knew him as a friend, fellow competitor, housemate and groomsman in my wedding. I fantastic human being. He will be missed by many.

rick
rick
1 month ago

one of the really good guys in our sport

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