1956 U.S. Olympic Team Coach Stan Tinkham Dies at 87

1956 U.S. Olympic women’s team coach Stan Tinkham died on April 9th at the age of 87. He has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for several years.

Tinkham served as an Olympic coach when he was only 24-years old, one of the youngest in history. He earned the spot while coaching the team at the Walter Reed Army Hospital from 1954 through 1958: a position begun as a 22-year old Army private.

During his tenure there, the teams dominated the U.S. Senior National Championships. At one point, his team was so dominant that during his 5 year stint, his team won every women’s swimming event in at least one season.

The International Swimming Hall of Famer was the coach of, among others, Shelley Mann as part of that Olympic team. Mann won gold in the 100 fly at those Games, which made her the first-ever Olympic butterfly gold medalist after the stroke officially diverged from breaststroke.

Betty Mullen and Mary Jane Sears were also members of that team. Sears won bronze in the 100 fly that year – part of a 1-2-3 sweep for the Americans.

After leaving that post, Stan built his own pool, which he named the Northern Virginia Aquatic Club, and coached many more female champions. The club closed in 1988.

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Kelly Parker Palace

I had the good fortune to swim for Stan Tinkham as a young swimmer at Northern Virginia Aquatic Club. What an awesome Coach! He was a technician with strokes, a motivator and a true gentleman. I believe he was still coaching in his 80s. I remember any swimmer that could do 150 push outs (sneaky way to build strength) he would treat us to dinner out as the group that earned this feat. It was something I remember after all this time! RIP Stan. I’ll always remember you!

Mei Mei Lauck Connor

Stan Tinkham was a gentleman, a mentor, an inspiring coach, and an example of right living. He made my life have a deeper meaning in and out of the pool. Thank you, Stan.


Very well-liked and respected Master’s coach in his semi-retirement (at RMSC) in the 90’s. Good man. RIP.

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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