Passages: Don Hill, Former Michigan NCAA Champion Dies at 87


Don Hill, a former Michigan national champion and United States Masters Swimming (USMS) champion has died. He died Thursday, May 23, and was 87.

Hill, who married USA Olympic swimmer Jane Swagerty, toasted his life with champagne, alongside his family the night before he died, according to sources close to the family.

Hill had battled Leukemia, but was cancer-free the past five years before battling other health issues. After a brief stay in the hospital, he died of organ failure, according to sources close to the family.

Funeral services will be updated as soon as they are announced.

“I loved all the times that Don, Jane, Bill and I had when we were together,” said Debbie Meyer, Olympic gold medalist and International Swimming Hall of Fame honoree, who was on the 1968 Olympic team with Swagerty.

“The stories he told of swimming in another era confirmed we were in the infancy of competitive swimming in the 1960s. He was a generous man with his laughter and love. We were planning our 2020 get together of Olympics, golf and a river ride down the Colorado. I have a piece of my heart missing, but have years of sweet memories.”

Hill won the 1953 NCAA title in the 50 free, finishing in 22.4. He also was part of NCAA relay titles in 1952, 1953 and 1954.

Hill broke U.S. Masters Swimming records 38 times individually, and 14 times as a part of relays, two of which still stand.

In 2008, he won masters national titles in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events in the 70-74 age group.

In 2009, he won masters national titles in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events in the 77-79 age group.

He also competed in 2014 in the 80-84 age group and won the 50 free in 30.29.

Swagerty made the U.S. Olympic team in 1968 as a 17-year-old, winning the bronze in the 100 back. She swam the prelims of the 400 medley relay that won gold in the finals.

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3 years ago

May he rest in peace, with restful images of water surrounding and comforting him.

tim reid
3 years ago

We swam with Dr. Don for years at lunchtime at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Don was bigger than life, in more ways than one. I can still hear that deep voice and see the ready smile.
He was always fun to be with, and he spread his encouragement to us all, even the mere mortals!

Tim Reid
The Olympic Club lunch bunch