Passages: Iconic Maine, Plymouth State Swim Coach Alan Switzer, 90

Switzer
Alan Switzer Photo Courtesy: Plymouth State

The University of Maine Friday announced the passing of former swimming and diving coach Alan Switzer Jr. He was 90 years old.

Switzer spent 18 years at the helm of Maine and 27 at Plymouth State in New Hampshire, retiring in 2018 at age 88 after 62 years of coaching.

Switzer spoke to Swimming World for a profile in 2015 about his longevity in the profession:

“I feel that I’m able to have maybe a little bit of an impact in people’s lives — how they’re able to handle situations, helping to build confidence, to learn respect and be caring of other people. One of my strengths is an ability to relate with people and try to get them to see what is necessary, to give them the winning attitude.”

Switzer was the Black Bears’ first head coach, leading the men’s program from 1971-90. He compiled a 139-61 record in dual meets and won two New England Championship titles. Maine swimming named its annual student-athlete award, the Switzer Dedication Award, in his honor.

“It cannot be overstated how much influence Al had on me personally but, more importantly, on University of Maine swimming and swimming in the state of Maine,” Jeff Wren, a men’s assistant and the women’s head coach at Maine under Switzer then his replacement as men’s coach in 1990, said in a university statement. “He is the one who got it all started as he was hired as the first coach and aquatic director in the fall of 1971. From the very beginning, he set a tone of excellence, accountability, and class for everything that happened at Wallace Pool. Within a few short years, his men’s team was the best in New England and my women’s team followed that path short thereafter, building a legacy he established. He asked a lot, gave a lot, and produced notable results. Every current swimmer and diver should be thankful for the start that he provided for this program.”

Switzer was inducted to the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Maine Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 2015.

Switzer spent 27 years leading Plymouth State’s women’s program, a four-time the Charles Batterman Award as the New England women’s diving coach of the year. Switzer had 14 winning seasons at Plymouth State with a 134-126 career record.

Switzer was born in New Rochelle, N.Y. A baseball standout at Harvard University and in the Cape Cod League, he earned his master’s degree from Harvard after serving in the army during the Korean War.

Switzer began teaching in 1955 at Hebron Academy before moving in 1962 to the Hill School in Pennsylvania, as a teacher, swim coach and assistant baseball and football coach.


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