Passages: Former Indiana Swimmer, Coach David Tanner, 70

David Tanner Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@BHSNathletics

Dr. David Tanner, who swam at the University of Indiana in its heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s and went on to a successful coaching career, died Thursday.

Tanner had battled lymphoma. He was 70 years old.

A native of Danville, Illinois, Tanner arrived in Bloomington in 1968 to join the juggernaut built by Hoosiers coach James “Doc” Counsilman. Tanner wasn’t a star at IU. But on teams that won six straight NCAA championships, led by Olympians Mark Spitz, Gary Hall Sr., Charlie Hickcox and John Kinsella, Tanner was a valuable member of the team.

He remained part of the connective tissue of that group post-graduation and served as “team archivist, the Counsilman historian, the event planner, and the perpetuator of all things Counsilman. Perhaps most importantly to him, he became a devoted friend, affectionate caregiver and valued confidante to both Doc, Marge and the Counsilman family.”

“Dave Tanner was one of our most beloved swimming and diving alums,” Indiana coach Ray Looze said in a university statement. “Indiana University swimmer, coach, professor, caretaker of both Marge and Doc, and historian of all things IU swimming. He is irreplaceable and will forever be missed.”

Tanner stayed connected to swimming, returning as Counsilman’s assistant for two seasons. He took over the boys program at Bloomington High School North in 1998 and stayed for more than 20 years.

David Tanner continued to compete athletically in masters swimming, triathlons and Ironman races. His athletic endeavors included “trail runs, orienteering competitions, canoe races, open water competitions, kayak camping, river running and back country mountaineering.”

Tanner received degrees from IU in Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, Exercise Physiology, and Human Performance, the latter a doctorate, in 2001. He taught classes in the Department of Kinesiology and spent nearly two decades at the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, serving as a director of athletic assessment and research associate. In the mold of his mentor Counsilman, Tanner was an all-around polymath.

Share and Tweet This Story


  1. avatar
    Moises Gosalvez

    Spanish swimming will always remember Dave and be grateful for his legacy

  2. avatar
    Charles Johnson

    I was honored to be part of the class entering IU in ’68 with Dave and have always considered him a true friend and valued teammate. Truly one of the best people I’ve known.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial