Passages: Former Penn State Swimming Head Coach Lou MacNeill Passes at 88

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics mourns the passing of former director of aquatics, men’s swimming coach and assistant professor Lou MacNeill. He passed away at the age of 88, Monday at York Hospital in Kennebunk, Maine, following a long illness.

MacNeill joined the Nittany Lions in 1965 as director of the University’s entire aquatic program and was the head coach of the varsity team for 17 seasons before retiring in 1984. He was integral to the revival of varsity swimming in 1968 after a 17-year hiatus from the athletic program. During his tenure, MacNeill guided the Nittany Lions to a 90-104 record, a top finish of second at the Eastern Championships in 1983 and an Atlantic 10 Conference Championship in his final season in 1984. He left a strong foundation, as the Nittany Lions went on to claim the next three A-10 Championships following his retirement.

In 1982 MacNeill was chosen by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America to receive its Distinguished Coach Award.

The Lou MacNeill Award is annually presented to the top Penn State men’s swimmer.

His legacy is not only remembered in the pool, but in the classroom as well. As the director of Penn State’s aquatic program, he was in charge of the swimming program for male students, the professional program of physical education majors, and supervised the intramural and recreational swimming programs. He was also an assistant professor of physical education in the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

MacNeill was also the founder of the Pennsylvania Swimming Hall of Fame, of which he is a member.

A native of Saugus, Massachusetts, MacNeill graduated from Springfield College in 1952 and received a master of education degree from the University of Missouri in 1955. He was an instructor in physical education at Missouri for eight years and coached the swim team at Lafayette College for five years before leaving for Penn State.

At his request, there will be no visiting hours, and the family will hold a private burial later in the spring of 2019. He was predeceased by his brothers, Rodney, Douglas, Stuart and William, and his wife of 62 years, Pat.

He is survived by a son, Jim, of Wells, Maine, and his wife Karen and their sons, Chandler and Braeden MacNeill, and a son, Andrew, of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and his wife Maddie and their daughter Maya MacNeill and many loving nieces and nephews.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with Penn State Swimming and Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact

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  1. Pat Kennedy

    Prayers for Coach Lou’s family and loved ones. He was a man of superior character and genuine love of our beloved sport.

  2. avatar

    Lou was a kind, caring, fun coach, who gave so much to our great collegiate sport. RIP Lou.

  3. Tom Turner

    Prayers for Lou’s family. He was a super guy and coach.

  4. avatar
    Gloria MAC Neill

    Jim, Karen and family so sorry for your loss. Our family had a lot of good times with your mom Pat and Lou. Lots of funny antics with Bill and Lou and the brothers when they got together. My prayers are with you all. The end of an era, but their families carry them in their hearts. ❤️

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