Art Downey Retires After 62 Years Coaching MN High School Swimming

Minnesota high school coaching legend Art Downey has retired after 62 years coaching the Edina High School boys program. Downey is the only head coach in Edina swimming history and his teams won 10 state titles.

Downey was hired in 1956 and has become a staple of the Minnesota high school swimming scene. For his 50th season coaching, Downey was honored with a bobblehead made in his likeness at the state swim meet. For his 55th season, Downey was honored with a standing ovation from the state meet crowd and his colleagues handed out replicas of his signature black-framed glasses to teams on deck.

Downey famously refuses to give his real age in interviews, instead referring to himself as 28. In 2015, local newspaper the Star-Tribune reported on Downey coaching three generations of the same family. In that story, Downey could recall specific section and state finishes for both older generations, one from 1979-1980 and the other 1956-1957.

News of Downey’s retirement immediately brought out high accolades from a number of major Minnesota swimming names, including Olympic gold medalist David Plummer (who coached against Downey briefly in Minnesota’s Lake Conference) and University of Minnesota head coach Kelly Kremer:

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olde coach
2 years ago

One of the finest gentlemen in our sport. Best wishes in your retirement Art

Muddy Canary
2 years ago

Absolute legend.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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