Swimming World Pays Tribute to Those the Swim Community Lost in 2023

Lance Larson, right, and John Devitt, middle, after a controversial judging decision handed the Australian gold in a 100m freestyle final at Rome 1960 in which Manuel Dos Santos, of Brazil, claimed bronze - Photo Courtesy: ISHOF film still

Each year the swimming community loses members in the circle of life. As a new generation of swimmers entered the world in 2023, we pay tribute to those the swimming world has lost in the past year.

Dick Guyer, 77

Dick Guyer, a long-time coach at York Suburban High School in central Pennsylvania, died on Oct. 23. He was 77 years old.

Guyer spent 52 seasons with York Suburban over two stints, including 44 as the head coach. He retired for the first time in 2009, while mounting a successful battled against leukemia, then returned in 2018 for a three-year run.

Ken Kakasone, 82

The Indiana swimming and diving program is mourning following the death of Ken Nakasone in October. He was 82.

Nakasone swam at IU from 1959-63, earning All-America distinction from each of his final three seasons. He swam the breaststroke leg of IU’s third-place 400-yard medley relay in 1962 and placed top-10 in the 100-yard breaststroke each season, peaking at fourth in 1963.

Marcus Papanikolaou, 17

Marcus Papanikolaou, a high school senior at Central Bucks East in Pennsylvania and a sprinter committed to Penn State, died in a car accident on Oct. 13. He was 17 years old.

Papanikolaou was killed in Northampton Township in a single vehicle accident in which his car struck a tree.

Ursula Carlile, 86

The Australian swimming community is today mourning the loss of a legend and a National swimming treasure with the peaceful passing of coaching pioneer Ursula Carlile in Ryde on Oct. 16. She was 86.

Ursula’s passing comes nine years after her famous husband and swimming coaching and teaching icon, Forbes Carlile, passed away during the 2016 Rio Olympics – marking the end of an era – celebrating one of the most famous names in Australian swimming – a name that will forever remain a major part of the country’s sporting landscape.

John Devitt, 86

The Australian swimming community is in mourning today following the passing of one if its greatest champions, two-time Olympic and three-time Commonwealth Games freestyle gold medalist John Devitt AM – a true legend of the sport.

“Gentleman John” passed away peacefully in Sydney Aug. 16, aged 86, leaving an enormous legacy not only in sport but after a special life alongside his adoring wife Wendy and the four Devitt kids – Carmel, Mark, Julie, and Sean.

Bruce Johnson, 77

Bruce R. Johnson, New Jersey Swim Coach and Author Bruce R. Johnson, a swim coach, writer and author in New Jersey for nearly 50 years, died on Sept. 21 after lengthy illness. He was 77 years old.

Mary Caldwell, 98

Mary Moorman Ryan Caldwell, a U.S. record holder and Olympic hopeful in the 1940s, died on June 8. She was 98 years old.

The native of Louisville swam at Lakeside Swim Club in her youth and was a national junior champion at age 11. She won a national championship in the mile in 1940 at age 15.

Ryan won national titles in American record times in the 440-yard, 880-yard and mile swim at the 1940 National AAU Outdoor Championships in Portland, Oregon. She and Lakeside teammate Ann Hardin Grimes did enough at that meet to qualify for the 1940 Olympic swim team, though those Games in Helsinki had been cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II.

Dave Allen, 75

Dave Allen, who founded the UNC Wilmington swimming and diving program in the 1970s, died on June 21. He was 75 years old.

Seen as the patriarch of UNCW swimming, Allen and athletics director William J. Brooks started the program for the 1977-78 season in Division I. Allen retired in 2014 after 37 years at the helm. In 2022, the school named its aquatics facility the David B. Allen Natatorium in his honor.

Virgil Luken, 80

Former Minnesota national champion swimmer Virgil Luken passed away Saturday, June 10, at his home in Minnetonka, Minn. at the age of 80.

A 2004 member of the M Club Hall of Fame, Luken became a national champion the first year he competed on the University of Minnesota swim team, winning the 1962 NCAA 200-yard breaststroke.

Kathy McKee, 69

Kathy McKee, a long-time member of the SwimMAC coaching staff and an inductee to the American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame, died in May.

The ASCA announced her death on Wednesday. She was 69 years old.

Geoff Mykleby, 70

Dr. Geoff Mykleby, also known to some as Molar, The Party Planner, Wolfpack, Dr. Deluxe succumbed to a long battle with cancer in May, wrapped in his Big Shoulders Open Water swim shirt that would be his last race. He was 70.

Frank Keefe, 85

Legendary swim coach Frank Keefe, who led Yale for more than 30 years and coached a slew of Olympians, died in May. He was 85.

Keefe leaves a long legacy of coaching. He spent a decade at Suburban Swim Club in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, a regional powerhouse club that continues to churn out collegians. Among his earliest pupils were Olympic medalists Carl Robie and Tim McKee.

Jud Crawford, 51

Jud Crawford, a standout at Ohio State University and a World University Games gold medalist, died on April 6. He was 51 years old.

Crawford – full name Judson Crawford – swam in Columbus from 1990-93. He swept the Big Ten titles in the breaststroke events in 1992 and was an All-Big Ten selection in 1992 and 1993. He was also an All-American both years.

Robert Trotman, 82

Robert Trotman, who spent six decades coaching swimming and extending swimming opportunities to historically underserved communities, died on March 22. He was 82 years old.

Trotman founded Nu-Finmen Swim Team in 1959, with Charles Simmons, with the aim of, “provid(ing) opportunities for children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to swim.” From the original location in Brooklyn, it expanded into Nassau County and Newark and Jersey City. The team is currently based in Cambria Heights, Queens. It has developed swimmers who would become all-state and NCAA All-American swimmers as well as numerous coaches. Trotman’s family estimates that more than 2,000 of his student-athletes graduated from college.

Pat Keller McCormick, 92

Pat Keller McCormick, the first diver inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural induction class, died on March 7, 2023, at the age of 92. She was the first diver, male or female, to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals on both boards in consecutive Olympic Games. She was champion in 1952 and 1956 on both the 3-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform – A feat that has still only happened one other time, when Greg Louganis repeated it in 1984 and 1988.

Jamie Cail, 42

Jamie Cail, a former U.S. national teamer and gold medalist at the 1997 Pan Pacific Championships, died in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Feb. 21. She was 42 years old.

Cail was a native of Claremont, New Hampshire. She swam at the Bolles School and attended the University of Southern California before transferring to the University of Maine.

In one of her most significant national-team meets, she won gold in the 800 free relay at the 1997 Pan Pacific Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, alongside Lindsay Benko, Ashley Whitney and Jenny Thompson. She also finished fourth in the 1,500 freestyle. She also won a World Cup circuit event in the 800 free.

Viktor Ageev, 86

Viktor Ageev, a three-time Olympic water polo medalist for the Soviet Union, died on Jan. 30. He was 86 years old.

Born in Moscow in 1936, Viktor Ivanovich Ageev rose through the Soviet sporting ranks. He made his Olympic debut with the Soviet team that won bronze at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. He’d add a silver medal in Rome in 1960 and bronze in Tokyo in 1964. His most intensive participation was at the latter Games, playing in all six matches and scoring two goals.

Nick Rodionoff, 87

Nick Rodionoff, the former women’s swimming and diving head coach at Pepperdine who worked at the school for four decades, died on Feb. 17. He was 87 years old.

Rodionoff led the swimming and diving program for 18 years from 2000-18. He led the Waves to 14 top-five finishes at the Pacific Collegiate Swim & Dive Conference Championships. He was named the PCSC coach of the year in 2002 and 2009, mentored Jessica Mosbaugh to consecutive conference swimmer of the year honors and tutored six PCSC divers of the year.

Grant Stoelwinder, 53

Australian coach Grant Stoelwinder died in February.

He was the coach of West Coast Swimming Club since 1997.

Ty Wells, 23

Ty Wells, a fifth-year swimmer at the University of Arizona, died in January at just 23.

Jane Cederqvist, 77

Jane Cederqvist, the silver medalist in the 400 freestyle at the 1960 Olympics, died on Jan. 15. She was 77 years old. Cederqvist died from complications of ALS.

The native of Stockholm had just turned 15 in the summer of 1960 when she headed to the Rome Olympics. She earned a silver medal in the women’s 400 free, her time of 4:53.9 second to the Olympic record set by American Chris von Saltza (4:50.6). Cederqvist’s time was quicker than that of Australian Lorraine Crapp in winning gold four years earlier in Melbourne. Van Saltza held the world record in the 400 free entering Rome.

Shintaro Yokochi, 87

Shintaro Yokochi, a Japanese swimmer who became a renowned coach in Portugal, died in January at the age of 87. His death was announced by the Portuguese Swimming Federation on Sunday.

Yokochi’s man pupils included his son, Alexandre Yokochi, still the only swimmer from Portugal to reach an Olympic final when he did so in the 200 breaststroke in 1984. It was one of three Olympics at which the younger Yokochi swam.

Don Easterling, 90

Don Easterling, who led North Carolina State to 17 ACC titles over 24 years at the helm, died in January. Easterling was 90 years old.

Easterling led the Wolfpack from 1970-94. He won 15 ACC championships at the helm of the men’s team and two with the women, including 12 consecutive men’s crowns from 1971-82. The high point came in 1973, when the Wolfpack won ACCs by winning all 17 events at the meet.

Michael Jent, 16

Michael Jent, a 16-year-old student at Carmel High School and a member of the school’s swim team, died after he was involved in a car accident in January. Jent’s car crashed into an apartment building in Carmel, Ind., and he was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. He died from those injuries two days later.

Greta Anderson

Greta Anderson, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Famer, died this year.

She was first to complete a two-way crossing of the Catalina Channel in 1958 in 26 hours and 53

Peter Jurzynski

Peter Jurzynski, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Famer, died this year.

His career revolved around the English Channel with 14 successes in 20 twenty attempts.

Norman Trusty

Norman Trusty, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Famer, died this year.

He swam from France to England in 1967 in 12 hours and 5 minutes and from England to France (twice).

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Bob Anderson
Bob Anderson
6 months ago

Tom Cole Indiana University 1978-1982

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