Passages: Tribute to Who Was Lost in the Swimming World in 2020: Part 2 (July-December)

Don Talbot
Gennadi Touretski and Alex Popov

Passages: A Tribute to Who Was Lost in the Swimming World in 2020: Part 2 (July-December)

The world of swimming endured a number of notable passages in 2020, individuals who enriched the sport in the pool and on deck.

In 2020, we lost some of the sports coaching pioneers around the globe. Many of those we said goodbye to this year blazed new trails for their countries in the pool. Many left us too soon, victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is a look at the notable passages from July through the end of 2020:

Kendall Pickering, Illinois High School Swimmer

Passages: Kendall Pickering, a rising star at Hinsdale Central High School in Illinois, and her father Robert died in a car accident Dec. 15 in North Carolina. Pickering, a sophomore, was 15 years old.

Pickering just finished her sophomore season at Hindsdale Central. She won two events at an Illinois High School Association (IHSA) sectional in October, one of 16 sectional meets in the state. Pickering won the 200 individual medley in 2:03.35, the 100 butterfly in 55.03 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.44. She was ranked by SwimCloud as the fourth-best girls swimming recruit in the Class of 2023 in Illinois.

Jimmy McLane Jr., Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer

Passages: Jimmy McLane Jr. died peacefully in his home on Dec. 13 at age 90. A three-time Olympic gold medalist and member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, McLane qualified for the Olympics in 1948, winning two medals in London. He won gold with his 19:18.5 in the 1500 freestyle, and silver in the 400 freestyle with a time of 4:43.4.

He was part of a world record in London on the USA’s 4x200m free relay team (8:46.0) for the gold medal. McLane made the USA Olympic team again four years later. In Helsinki, he again won a gold medal as part of the 4x200m relay, and finished fourth in the 1500m free (18:51.5) and 7th in 400m free (4:40.3). He went to Yale University where he competed on the swimming team, graduating in 1953, and helping the team win two national titles on Hall of Famer Bob Kiphuth‘s greatest Yale teams. McLane’s greatest Yale year was 1953 when he won three events at the AAU Indoor Championships.

Tom Burek, Monmouth College Coach

Passages: Tom Burek, the long-time coach of Monmouth College (Ill.), died Dec. 12 of complications of COVID-19. He was 62.

Burek was the second-longest serving swim coach in Monmouth history. During Burek’s tenure, members of Monmouth’s men’s and women’s swim teams won 12 individual Midwest Conference titles and four times qualified for the NCAA Division III championships.

William Logue, Long-Time Drexel Coach

Passages: William Logue, who spent 23 years coaching Drexel before his retirement in 1991, passed away Dec. 1 at age 86.

Logue compiled an overall career record of 242-56. He coached the men’s team from 1968-91 and was the women’s coach from 1978-84. With the men, he posted three undefeated seasons and five East Coast Conference titles. Logue’s Dragons finished either first or second in the ECC in nine of his last 10 seasons. As the women’s coach, he won six conference titles, was twice named the ECC Coach of the Year and was awarded the 1979 Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Coach of the Year honor.

John Conner, Hall of Fame Diver from Duke

Passages: John Conner, a member of the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame, passed away Nov. 7 at age 91.

Conner twice earned All-America honors as a diver at Duke in 1949 and 1950.  He was a three-time Southern Conference champion (1949-51) and posted top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships in 1949 (fourth in the 1-meter event) and 1950 (eighth in 1-meter & ninth in 3-meter ).

Conner, who served a stint as the head diving coach at Harvard University from 1956-62, was enshrined into the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.  In addition, he competed in Masters diving events globally, winning over 40 U.S. Masters National Championships, and was recognized as an Honor Diver by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2010.

Heydar Shonjani, Iranian Olympians in Swimming and Water Polo

Passages: Heydar Shonjani, who represented Iran at the Olympics as a swimmer and a water polo, died Nov. 8. He was 74.

Shonjani was the first Iranian swimmer at the Olympics, participating in the men’s 100-meter freestyle at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He transitioned to a career in water polo, helping Iran to a gold medal in the 1974 Asian Games and a spot in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

Sara (Barber) Jenkins, Canadian Olympic Swimmer

Passages: Sara (Barber) Jenkins, who represented Canada at two Olympic Games, died Oct. 22 due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 79 years old.

Jenkins competed for Canada in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. She was just 15 when she qualified for the Melbourne Olympics, where she made two individual finals, finishing seventh in the 100 backstroke and eighth in the 100 butterfly. She also added a relay final, finishing fifth. In 1960, she swam in the 100 back and medley relay in Rome.

Jenkins competed at the 1954 Empire Games in Vancouver, her first of two such events, plus two Pan American Games. She set a world record in the 100 back at the 1959 Pan Am Games in Chicago, which was re-set later in the meet by American Carin Cone, who edged Jenkins by one-tenth of a second to the gold medal.

Kelvin Juba, Author, Statistician And Coach

Passages: Swimming author and statistician Kelvin Juba died on Nov. 3.

Juba was a driving force in developing the ‘learn to swim, prevent drowning’ program that was launched at the end of 2017. He had followed in his father’s footsteps as a swimming coach and went on to work across several sports before returning to the swimming world. Juba wrote several books including collaborations with David Wilkie, the 1976 Olympic 200m breaststroke champion.

Australian Don Talbot, a Giant in Coaching

Don Talbot, AUS 1996 by Darrin Braybrook, Sport the Library (1)

Photo Courtesy: Darrin Braybrook Sport the Library / Swimming World Archive

Passages: Australia’s Don Talbot died Nov. 3 at age 87. A 1979 inductee to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Talbot is regarded as one of the greatest coaching minds in history, having guided his homeland to significant success while molding some of the top names in the sport. Talbot was known as a taskmaster, but his success also warranted tremendous respect and appreciation for his coaching skills.

Talbot made his name known through the work he did with John and Ilsa Konrads, freestyle aces for Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. The siblings each set world records in the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle, with John adding a global standard in the 200 freestyle and three medals at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Talbot also developed Kevin Berry, who made his first Olympic squad as a 14-year-old in 1960 and would win gold in the 200 butterfly in 1964.

Talbot was named the head coach of the Australian men’s team at the 1964 Games and held that role at the next two Olympiads. He first left his homeland for Canada, where he served a stint as that country’s National Team coach, then took the head job at the Nashville Aquatic Club in the United States, where he coached hall of famer Tracy Caulkins.

A role at the Australian Institute for Sport brought him home in 1980, but Talbot left again for Canada a few years later. During his second stop as Canada’s National Team Coach, he prepared the nation to produce some of its best Olympic performances in 1984 and 1988, although he was let go from his position just before the 1988 Games. Between 1984 and 1988, Canada collected 12 medals, including four gold.

In 1989, Talbot was put in charge of the Australian National Team, which was coming off a poor showing at the 1988 Olympic Games. But Talbot turned the tide for the Aussies, who excelled at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, where Australia bettered the United States in the gold-medal count.

Bob Loy, Renowned High School Coach

Passages: Bob Loy, a long-time coach of Bloomington High School in Illinois, died Oct. 29 at age 65.

Loy was the head coach for the boys and girls swimming teams at Bloomington for nearly 40 years before retiring in 2017. Loy was named the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) boys swim coach of the year in 2009. Loy graduated from Bloomington in 1973, after an All-American career at Illinois State University, and was named the head coach in 1979. He coached more than 120 all-state performance and 60 All-Americans as well as several state record holders and state champions. He also taught at the school and was an assistant coach in softball and tennis.

Frank Legacki, Michigan Swimming Great

Passages: Frank Legacki passed away Oct. 16, at the age of 81.

A native of Philadelphia, Legacki became a National Catholic High School Champion and a Scholastic All-American at Father Judge. He chose the University of Michigan among a bevy of college offers.

Legacki became the NCAA Champion in 100-yard freestyle and anchored the championship 400 freestyle relay. Two weeks later, he swam the 100-yard butterfly at the National AAU and won in an American record time. He was an integral part of Michigan’s 1959 NCAA championship team and as a senior captained the Michigan team went on the be the upset victors at NCAAs, Legacki winning the 50-yard freestyle with an American record time of 21.3 seconds.

He also competed in the National AAU Championships a few weeks later and set another American Record (51.9) in the 100-yard butterfly. Legacki was a member of the USA National Team that toured Japan in 1959.

Lee Lawrence, Former Navy Swimming Coach

Passages: Lee Lawrence, a member of Navy’s men’s swimming coaching staff for 36 years and an instructor in the USNA physical education department, passed away Oct. 9 at age 82.

Lawrence attended Staunton Military Academy where he earned two prep school All-America honors and swam at Missouri then Springfield College. He became the head coach for the Geneseo State swim team in 1965 and arrived in Annapolis in 1967 as an assistant coach to John Higgins. Lawrence was elevated to head coach in the summer of 1973.

Navy compiled winning records in 25 of his 30 seasons as head coach, during which time he guided the Mids to an overall record of 233-139.  Lawrence also coached the women’s swimming team for six seasons (1979-85) and the water polo team for three (1982-84).  His women’s swimmers compiled a 32-29 dual meet record. His water polo squads were 68-12.

Charley Siroky, American National Team Swimmer

Passages: Charley Siroky, a standout at the University of Arizona who swam on national teams in the 1980s, died at the age of 56 on Sept. 17.

Siroky was one of the top American backstrokers of his day. A graduate of Brophy College Prep, he became a 14-time All-American at Arizona, including five individual honors. Siroky qualified for the 1984 Olympics Trials in Indianapolis, where he finished ninth in both the 100 and 200 back. He represented the U.S. at the 1985 Pan Pacific Championships, winning a bronze medal in the 100 back, and a gold medal at that year’s World University Games in the 800 freestyle relay. Siroky also captained the U.S. swim delegation to the inaugural Goodwill Games in 1986 in Moscow.

John Ferris, Two-Time Olympic Medalist

John Ferris

Passages: John Ferris, a two-time medalist at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, died Sept. 13 at the age of 71 following a battle with lung cancer.

A member of a highly successful swimming family, Ferris trained at the Arden Hills Swim Club in Northern California under coach Sherm Chavoor and was an NCAA champion at Stanford University. At the 1968 Olympics, Ferris earned his way onto a pair of podiums behind bronze-medal performances in the 200 individual medley and 200 butterfly. An NCAA champion in the 200-yard butterfly at Stanford, Ferris briefly held the world record in the 200-meter butterfly in 1967 en route to winning the gold medal at the World University Games.

Ian Miskelley, Michigan Undergrad Swimmer

Passages: Ian Miskelley, a University of Michigan swimmer and Michigan high school state champion, died Sept. 7. He was 19.

Miskelly led Holland Christian to the Michigan state championship in 2018, becoming an individual state champion in the 100-yard backstroke, 200 individual medley and as was part of two relays. He was a USA junior national medalist and qualified for U.S. nationals in 2017, swimming for the Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics club. He was a member of the University of Michigan men’s swim team and was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

Jakob Mumper, High School Standout Swimmer

Passages: Jakob Mumper, an 18-year-old senior at Bloomington North High School in Indiana, was shot and killed in an apparent murder-suicide by his father on Sept. 6.

Mumper was a rising senior swimmer at Bloomington North  where he was 18th in both the 50 (21.24) & 100 freestyle (46.86) at the 2020 IHSAA state championships. Mumper helped his 200 freestyle relay team place 13th at the state meet as he anchored in a 20.76. He also anchored the 400 free relay team to finish 22nd.

William ‘Bill’ Yorzyk, 1956 Olympic Champion in 200 Butterfly

Passages: The sport of swimming lost a giant on Sept. 2 in Wednesday when William “Bill” Yorzyk, the first Olympic champion in the dolphin-kick version of the butterfly, died at 87.

A 1971 inductee into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Yorzyk was a late entry to the sport, a beginner when he enrolled at Springfield College as a 16-year-old. However, that delayed introduction to the competitive scene hardly deterred Yorzyk. Under the guidance of coach Charles “Red” Silvia, Yorzyk was an All-American by his junior year.

With the breaststroke and butterfly split for the first time at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Yorzyk etched his name in history by capturing the 200 butterfly. Yorzyk covered his four laps in a world-record time of 2:19.3. He was the only male gold medalist for the United States.

Andy Burke, Devoted US Water Polo Administrator

Passages: Andy Burke, a long-time administrator for water polo who served on numerous U.S. and international committees, passed away Aug. 21 at the age of 91.

Burke was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2018. Burke narrowly missed selection for the U.S. men’s teams that competed at the Pan American Games of 1955 in Mexico City and 1959 in Chicago, as well as the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne and the 1960 Games in Rome. Following his final failed attempt at Olympic glory, Burke became a referee and took on administrative duties with the U.S. men’s program. In 1960, he was elected Chairman of the National AAU water polo committee; from 1961 through 1964 he also served as chairman of water polo for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Burke oversaw the Olympic team selection process and served as manager at the 1964 Tokyo Games. From 1966 through 1976, he served as Chairman of the AAU Water Polo Rules Committee. He also was on the Technical Water Polo Committee UANA, the Swimming Union of the Americas, from 1963 through 1975, and the UANA Executive Board from 1975 to 1995.

Laszlo Cseh, Two-Time Olympic Swimmer

Passages: Laszlo Cseh Sr., a two-time Olympian for Hungary, died Aug 24 at the age of 68. The death was announced by his son, six-time Olympic medalist Laszlo Cseh Jr.

The elder Cseh contested the 100-meter backstroke at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and the 1972 Games in Munich, where he was also a member of Hungary’s 400 medley relay. A European youth champion, he also competed at the European Championships and finished fifth in the 100 backstroke at the inaugural World Championships in 1973.

Scott Sherwood, Hawaii Swim Club Coach

Passages: Scott Allen Sherwood, 48, passed away on Aug. 3 in Waipahu, Hawaii.

He served and worked at the Hawaii Swim Club in Oahu. His most notable swimmers are Punahou graduates Christel Simms, 2008 Beijing Olympian and All-American at USC, and Brittany Beauchan, USA Olympic Trials Qualifier and UCLA swimmer.

Barry Watson, English Channel Record Holder

Passages: Barry Watson, who held the record for the fastest English Channel crossing from 1964 to 1977, died Aug. 12 at age 81.

Watson swam the channel in 1964 at age 26. His time of nine hours, 35 minutes held for nearly two decades. Watson completed three more channel crossings in 1968, 1969 and 1970, among other open-water feats. He continued to swim into his 70s. Watson was inducted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1973.

Charles Arnold, Former James Madison Swim Coach

Passages: Charles “Charlie” Arnold, former head coach of the James Madison University men’s swimming and diving program, died Aug. 10. He was 93.

Arnold joined JMU Athletics in the fall of 1973, becoming the first head coach for the men’s program. In 19 seasons, he compiled an overall record of 175-80, including 155-67 against NCAA Division I competition. Under Arnold’s guidance, the Dukes competed at the junior varsity level for only two seasons before transitioning to the Division I level.

Sholto McKeown, Father of Aussie Swimming Family

Passages: No matter where Australia’s swimming sister act, Taylor and Kaylee McKeown swim next they will carry with them the inspiration and fighting spirit of their greatest fan – their Dad, Sholto McKeown, who lost his fierce two-year battle with brain cancer on Aug. 12. Sholto was 53.

Jean Hurring, New Zealand’s Only Women’s Swimming Olympic Medalist

Passages: Jean Hurring (nee Stewart), who won bronze in the women’s 100 backstroke at the 1952 Olympics and competed at the 1956 Games, died Aug. 9 in her native New Zealand. She was 89 years old.

It remains the only Olympic swimming medal won by a woman from New Zealand. She also competed in the 1956 Melbourne Games but didn’t escape the heats in her event.

Gennadi Touretski, Legendary Russian coach

gennaditouretski

Gennadi Touretsky – Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Passages: Legendary swim coach Gennadi Touretski passed away Aug. 7 at his home in Switzerland. Touretski was 71 and suffered a fatal stroke.

He started coaching in 1973 and began work with the Soviet national team in 1979. From there, Touretski built a sterling career, as he coached legendary sprint star Alexander Popov to double Olympic gold in 1992 and 1996. Popov long revered Touretski and gave the coach his 1996 Olympic gold medal from the 100 freestyle. Touretski was also the mentor to sprint standouts Gennadi Prigoda, Vladimir Pyshnenko and Andrey Grechin.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Touretski worked as a chief specialist at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra where he was based from 1992 until he was dismissed in 2002. While in Australia, Touretski coached Olympic medalist Michael Klim, who has been selected for induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Mimi Jones, Activist in Famous Swim Photo

Passages: Mimi Jones, an activist who was appeared in an infamous 1964 photograph that played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement, died July 26 at age 73.

She and fellow activists (white and black) rented rooms at the segregated Monson Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Florida, and staged a swim-in. When she and others swam in the pool, the motel owner poured acid into the water, a striking image captured on film with the 17-year-old Jones screaming as the suited motel manager dumped the liquid into the pool.

Kieth Pike, Southern California Swimming Official

Passages: Kieth Pike, who served as a swimming official in Southern California for more than half a century, died on July 19. Pike started officiating high school meets in 1962 and continued until 2017, a 56-season tenure. The Westminster, Calif., resident worked CIF Southern Section swimming championships, USA Swimming meets and high school water polo games. He served as a board member of the Southern California Aquatics Federation and was awarded the Southern California Swimming’s Ed Ruth Excellence in Officiating Award in 2017.

Benny Liang, Former Swimming World Intern and Club Coach

BennyLiangHeadshot.jpeg

Benny Liang; Photo Courtesy: Wabash Athletics

Passages: Benny Liang was always in involved in swimming, as a college swimmer, later a coach — even an intern at Swimming World in 2017. Most recently a part-time swimming coach at Carmel Swim Club, Liang drowned in a local pool on July 20 at age 22.

Liang had been a part-time swim coach with Carmel Swim Club since September 2019. He is originally from Whitewater, Wisconsin, and swam at Wabash College.

Dan Flannery, Eight-Time Iowa State Champion Swim Coach

Passages: Dan Flannery, the longtime Ames High School swimming coach, died July 21.

Flannery is the most successful swimming coach in the state of Iowa. Flannery has been the head girls swimming and diving coach at Ames High since 2002 and has been leading the boys’ program since 1998. Since being named the head girls coach, Ames’ varsity dual meet record is 140-11-1. In the past 10 years, the Little Cyclones have won eight team state championships. Ames became only the third school in Iowa history to win the girls swimming and boys swimming team titles in the same academic year (2018) when Flannery guided Ames to its first boys championship since 1982.

Kerry Croswhite, Arizona High School Swim Coach

Passages: Kerry Croswhite, Chandler (Ariz.) High School swim coach, died on Aug. 21 after complications from COVID-19 at age 61. Croswhite had been at Chandler for the past 15 years.

Aleksandr Kabanov, Russian Olympian as Player and Coach

Passages: Aleksandr Kabanov, who struck Olympic gold in 1972 and 1980 as a player for the Soviet Union men’s water polo team and a pair of bronze medals as coach — in 1988 as an assistant with the USSR in the Seoul Olympics, then as head coach for Russia in the 2004 Athens Games — passed away July 1 at the age of 72.

Kabanov, who was also a published author, with 1988’s The Ball on the Water, is one of few Olympians to have collected medals as both a player and coach. A 2001 inductee to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Kabanov was the head coach for the Russian men’s team in 1996 when they returned to Olympic competition following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. He again led the Russian men in 2004, and was head coach for Russia’s women’s team that finished fifth at the 2012 Games in London.

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