Passages: Olympic Coach Niels Jorgensen, 80, Passes Away

Photo Courtesy: Mary Pruden

Niels Jorgensen, who coached three Olympians (including two of his sons) in the 1980s and 1990s, has passed away. He was 80 years old.

Jorgensen coached sons Dan and Lars onto the U.S. Olympic team in 1988 in freestyle events along with breaststroker Kirk Stackle. Dan won gold as a part of the U.S. 800 free relay in 1988 and returned to the Olympics in 1992, where he won bronze on the 800 free relay.

Jorgensen coached his sons and Stackle at the Blue Fins swim team in San Diego after earlier coaching under Mark Schubert at Mission Viejo. Before coaching swimming, he had competed in wrestling when living in Denmark, where he had a shot at qualifying for the 1964 Olympics before becoming sick, and he later coached wrestling before moving over to the pool.

Jorgensen’s son Lars followed him into coaching and is now in his fifth year as head coach at the University of Kentucky.

9 Comments

9 comments

  1. avatar

    RIP Niels. A good man and a great coach!

  2. avatar

    I remember my swimmers competing against his at a junior Nationals where I had four of the top 9 in the mile. We were sure we would take at least first with one of our swimmers, since we have taken first and third and sixth I believe the 1000 at the start of the meet. Coach Jorgensen had this girl just swim the race of her life and it was very obvious I had been out-coached as she closed and took our swimmers by storm. What a smart and dedicated man with a farmer’s instinct for hard work. Great father too! He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.

  3. avatar
    Gary Anderson

    RIP Niels. Great man and great coach.

  4. Nancy Schlueter

    Condolences to Rosewitha, Dan, and Lars. Niels was a great man, coach and a dear friend. He was exceedingly kind to me. God bless you and keep you, Niels! 🙏

  5. avatar
    Marla Halsne Greenspan

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Lars and Dan. Niels was a great man and an outstanding swim coach. He will be greatly missed!

  6. avatar
    Ricky Jorgensen

    Condolences Rosi, Lars & Dan. My heart is with you all ❤️ Niels was my present early on in my life and he had always a very special place in my heart ❤️ Ill miss him ❤️

Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is a staff writer for Swimming World. He has contributed to the magazine and website since 2009, and he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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