Swimming Community Memoriam: 2018 People to Remember

Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

The world of swimming lost several legendary figures in 2018. Some were pioneer athletes, others were elite coaches and some were young swimmers we lost too early because of cancer.

From the first African-American All-American swimmer to several legendary coaches, here is a look at the legacy left behind in 2018 (links to their obituaries are included):

Ed Kirk, 87

Edward Roscoe Kirk passed away at his home in Braden, Florida, on Saturday, April 21. He was 87 years old. Ed was was the first person of African descent to be named a National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association All-America swimmer.

As a member of the famed Du Sable High School swim team, in Chicago, Ed was the first African-American to win an Illinois State high school swimming Championship, when he won the 150-yard individual medley at the state meet in 1950.


Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

Du Sable was a segregated school in Chicago in the pre-integration era and while many of the white schools refused to swim DuSable in dual meets, the Illinois School Board mandated that all schools were eligible to compete in the state championships and they all did.

The 150 individual medley race in 1950 was not without incident. In the preliminaries, a stroke and turn judge disqualified Kirk for an illegal turn. But on the pool deck was Wally Ris, the 1948 Olympic 100-meter champion. Ris had grown up in Chicago and had attended Crane Technical High before swimming for the University of Iowa and winning double gold medals in London, the second for the 4 x 200 free relay. Ris was adamant that he had watched the race closely and was certain Kirk did not make an illegal turn. On the word of Wally Ris, the official’s decision was overruled and Kirk went on to win the final and record an All-American time that also broke the state record.

Don LaMont, 82

Legendary swimming coach Don LaMont died on Wednesday, Dec. 5, months after suffering a stroke.

LaMont coached for nearly six decades and he was inducted into the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) Hall of Fame in 2008. He coached at USC for 25 years and coached 13 Olympians during his career, also coaching Team USA.

His swimmers set 10 American and two world records and included Olympic medalists Sandy Neilson, Jill Sterkel, Cynthia Woodhead, Michelle Ford, Anne Ottenbrite. He also placed Karin LaBarge and Mike Miao on Olympic teams.


Photo Courtesy: Carl Wulf

Daniela Samulski, 33

2009 World Championship silver medalist Daniela Samulski died in May after she lost her battle to cancer in her native Germany. Samulski succumbed to cancer after originally being diagnosed with the disease after her retirement in 2011. She was 33.

Samulski was the silver medalist in the 50 back at the 2009 World Championships behind China’s Zhao Jing, who set the world record that still stands today. Samulski’s time (27.23) still stands as the German record. She also holds the current German record in the 100 back with a 59.77 from the 2009 Worlds where she was ninth.

Bruce Hunter, 79

Richard Bruce Hunter, 1960 Olympian and All-American swimmer from Harvard died on July 6, on his 79th birthday. He is remembered not only being one of the best American sprinters of his era, but for one of the great demonstrations of sportsmanship in competitive swimming history, offering to give up his place on the Olympic team to a teammate recovering from appendicitis.

Tiger Holmes, 97

The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) is saddened to report the passing of Rogers Baldwin “Tiger” Holmes, at the age of 97.  Tiger served as member of ISHOF’s Board of Directors from 1991 to 1996, as Chairman of the Board from 1996 to 1998 and was the recipient of the organization’s Gold Medallion Award in 1998.  Here are some thoughts from a few who were impacted by his life.


Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

Bruce Hopping, 96

Bruce Hopping (a.k.a. “Brucey”, “Mr. B”, et al.) passed away peacefully just after midnight on Thursday, May 17.

For fifty years, Bruce and his foundation have been recognized internationally, nationally, at the state, county, and city levels for numerous contributions to water sports, arts, and the environment. His cultural exchanges for swim, surf, and water-polo teams have included multiple events on every continent except Antarctica.


Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

Ed Bartsch, 75

Ed Bartsch, coach to many teams across the country and 1963 NCAA Champion in the 200 Backstroke, passed away on June 18 after a multi-year battle with heart complications.

After winning NCAA and Pan-American Gold while swimming for the University of Michigan, Bartsch earned an MBA at SMU in 1968. He began his coaching career in 1971 with club and age group swimmers.

Bartsch then spent time working with the University of Southern California and the Philippine Olympic Team leading up to the 1992 Games in Barcelona. At the time, his swimmers set eight Philippine National Records, one Word Record and more.

Lyle Draves, 103

Lyle Draves passed peacefully in Northern California on Jan. 12, according to his family. He was 103.

Lyle Draves was the first pure diving coach developing 3 Olympic Champions: Vicki Manalo Draves (his wife), Pat McCormick, Sue Gossick.  Vicki was the 1st woman to win the Platform and Springboard at the same Olympics (1948). McCormick followed by becoming the first double, double Olympic gold winner (1952, 1956).  Gossick won the Springboard in 1968.  Draves coached female divers to 12 Olympic medals and 35 National Championships.  His Olympic silver medalists include Paula Jean Myers and Zoe Ann Olsen, each of whom took a bronze.  His divers Olympic medal count reads 7 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze.

Draves was America’s first great diving coach beginning an era when diving coaches could specialize in divers and not coach swimmers too, or vice versa.  He was a Hollywood film editor and his show biz background has helped his coaching or again, vice versa since Draves was diving in and then producing, top rated diving water shows before he became a film editor.


Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

Bob Clotworthy, 87

Olympic diving champion Robert (Bob) Lynn Clotworthy passed away peacefully at his home, in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 1st. He was 87 years old.

Born in Westfield, New Jersey, Bob attended the Ohio State University where he won 11 Big Ten, NCAA, and National AAU Championships before capping off his career with an Olympic gold medal at Melbourne in 1956.  In between he won a bronze in Helsinki (1952) and another bronze at the Pan Am Games (1955).  These were all as a springboard diver but he added a silver from the tower at the Pan Ams just to prove his versatility.


Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

Grace Bunke, 14

Para swimmer Grace Bunke passed away in March after a battle with an aggressive form of bone cancer. Bunke was just 14-years old and had been a member of U.S. Paralympics Swimming since May 2016, and last September competed in a Swim Across America event to raise money for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the hospital where Grace has received treatment the last four year.


Photo Courtesy: U.S. Paralympics Swimming

Robert White Sr., 91

Robert White Sr., a deeply respected and highly accoladed coach of 40 years and former Indiana University swimming star, passed away on Sunday, August 5, 2018 at the age of 91.

White’s lifelong commitment and service to the sport garnered a NISCA Hall of Fame Award in 1999, forever memorialized at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Bill Farley, 73

Former Princeton Swimming & Diving Coach Bill Farley passed away in late August at his home in Sacramento.

After graduating from St. Francis High School in La Canada, California, Bill went on to become one of the most decorated and accomplished swimmers in University of Michigan history.  Bill won multiple Big Ten Conference Championships in the 200, 500 and 1650 yard freestyle events. He was named All-American in 1964, 1965 and 1966. It is rumored that he set the American Record in the 1000 yard freestyle in a practice time trial at Michigan, after a full lunch of spaghetti and meatballs. He graduated from Michigan in 1966.

In 1963, at the age of 18, Bill placed 4th in the 1500 meter freestyle at the Pan American Games in Brasilia, Brazil. In 1964, he was selected to the United States Olympic Team. He placed 4th in the 1500 meter freestyle in Tokyo, Japan.

Niels Jorgensen, 80

Niels Jorgensen, who coached three Olympians (including two of his sons) in the 1980s and 1990s, died in January. He was 80 years old.

Jorgensen coached sons Dan and Lars onto the U.S. Olympic team in 1988 in freestyle events along with breaststroker Kirk Stackle. Dan won gold as a part of the U.S. 800 free relay in 1988 and returned to the Olympics in 1992, where he won bronze on the 800 free relay.

Jorgensen coached his sons and Stackle at the Blue Fins swim team in San Diego after earlier coaching under Mark Schubert at Mission Viejo. Before coaching swimming, he had competed in wrestling when living in Denmark, where he had a shot at qualifying for the 1964 Olympics before becoming sick, and he later coached wrestling before moving over to the pool.

Lou MacNeill, 88

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.

Jack Pettiger, 79

Jack Pettinger, the winningest coach in the history of the Wisconsin men’s swimming and diving program, passed away in July at the age of 79.

Pettinger, who coached the Badgers from 1969 to 1993, amassed a dual-meet record of 233-92 (.717) in his 24 seasons on deck and led UW to 15 top-five Big Ten finishes.

Kevin Polansky, 67

Kevin Polansky, a local legend in the Loveland, Colorado area, died at a masters swim practice in January. in Loveland.

He was treated with CPR until an ambulance arrived after he stopped at the end of the pool during a workout and became unresponsive, according to multiple news outlets. He was transported to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland where he died. His cause of death has not been released.

Polansky founded Loveland Masters Swimming in 1978, just shortly after US Masters Swimming was created in 1970. He was also a longtime coach for the Loveland High School team. He was Colorado High School Coach of the Year four times during his tenure as head coach. Polansky was also a successful masters swimmer, where he held multiple national-level Masters records.

Joel O’Connell, 75

Joel Lenzi O’Connell was a 10 x National AAU diving champion, and an honoree of the Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Hall of Fame. She passed away in Tempe, Arizona on May 10th at the age of 75.

She finished third at the 1960 Olympic trials. She won AAU national titles the following year on both boards.

Tazmin Pugh, 18

Former British swimmer Tazmin Pugh passed away in a house fire that occurred near Worcester in October.

Pugh, 18, was the 2016 European Junior Champion in the 200 backstroke in 2016, setting a best time of 2:11.12. That ranks her 19th all-time in the 200 back in all of Great Britain.

Nicholas Dworet, 17

17-year-old high school student Nicholas Dworet was killed in the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February. He had committed to the University of Indianapolis and was aiming to represent Sweden with his dual citizenship at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Dworet’s family and teammates have since started the #Swim4Nick foundation, which has been picked up by four-time Olympian Ryan Lochte, who has stated he will dedicate his swims at the Tokyo Olympics to Dworet’s family.

Fred Schlichting

Legendary diving coach Fred Schlichting passed away in May after a battle with gliobastoma.

Jan Cameron, 70

New Zealand National Coach and High-Performance Manager Jan Cameron passed away suddenly in the early hours of Monday 30 April 2018 at her home aged 70.

Jan was appointed Swimming New Zealand’s National Head Coach in 2001 and coached many of New Zealand representatives to various Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Dudley Jensen, 93

The William & Mary athletics department is saddened to announce the recent passing of former men’s swimming & diving coach Dudley Jensen (1925-2018). Jensen was a fixture at W&M for nearly 50 years, from 1951-96, and coached the men’s swimming & diving team for 33 years over three tenures from 1951-89.

Betty Perkins-Carpenter, 85

Legendary Olympic diving coach Betty Perkins-Carpenter passed away over the weekend at the age of 85.

Perkins-Carpenter coached Olympic bronze-medalist and 1982 World diving champion Wendy Wyland and also served as a coach for Greg Louganis on international trips.

Cee Evans (Finneran), 96

On February 5, 2018, 1976 U.S. Olympic Swim Team Manager Carolyn ‘Cee’ Evans Finneran passed away in her home in Gig Harbor, Washington. She was 96 years old.

Her contributions to United States and amateur swimming did not stop at managing the 1976 swim team, as her daughter Sharon Rittenhouse earned a silver medal in the 1964 Games and her son Michael Finneran scored the first “Perfect Dive” at the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials. Rittenhouse was later inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Bill Barnett, 76

Bill Barnett, who for five decades coached boys and girls water polo at Newport Harbor High School, and who led the U.S. Men’s Water Polo Team at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, passed away Christmas Eve at the age of 76.

The venerated coach steered the Sailors to 15 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section titles—10 with the boys and five with the girls—but Barnett may be best remembered for his efforts with U.S. Olympians. He took a veteran American squad to the finals of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, only to fall 9-7 to Yugoslavia. In 1992, Team USA reached the semifinals of the Barcelona Games before falling to host Spain.

Despite the missed opportunities, Barnett is regarded as one of the finest polo coaches America ever produced. He is one of only two coaches in U.S. Olympic polo history—the other is the legendary Monte Nitzkowski—to lead the American men to top-four finishes in back-to-back Games. For his efforts with USA Water Polo, and due to his distinguished career with Newport Harbor, where from 1966 to 2015 he produced multiple DI athletes as well as Olympians, in 2000 Barnett was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame.

Among the many male and female high school water polo athletes he sent on to success are Olympians James Bergeson, Kaleigh GilchristEric Lindroth and Kevin Robertson.


Photo Courtesy: Kaleigh Gilchrist

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