Celebrating a Legend: The Swimming Community Memorializes Jon Urbanchek on Social Media

by Spencer Penland 2

May 14th, 2024 News

The death of legendary swim coach Jon Urbanchek shook the swimming world late last week, marking the loss of one of the sport’s most influential coaches ever. While it’s not surprising because of the warm, friendly, and caring person that Urbanchek was, the number of high-profile people in the swimming community who posted on social media celebrating Urbanchek’s life and mourning his death was jarring. It feels like nearly everyone in the swimming community had been impacted by him in some way. The thing is, in reality, we all have been. Whether it was being directly coached by him, indirectly by being coached by someone who learned from him, or even more indirectly by training using concepts that he developed, Urbanchek’s impact on the sport of swimming is truly massive and incredibly far reaching.

In this post, we wanted to do a social media roundup of posts about Jon Urbanchek in the wake of his death. We had put a number of such social posts in our article on Urbanchek’s death, which are included here as well. Since the last edit on the article, so many more posts were published that we felt it was appropriate to aggregate them in a separate article.

This is a very long list of social media posts, though it is, of course, far, far from all the posts made about Urbanchek on soical media in the past few days. Feel free to throw any other posts that were particularly meaningful to you in the comments and we can include them in this post. Now, without further ado, let’s celebrate the life of one of swimming’s greatest ambassadors.

Mel Stewart, SwimSwam co-founder, 3-time Olympic medalist

Michael Phelps, 27-time Olympic medalist, trained at CW when Urbanchek was coaching there in the mid-2000s

University of Michigan Swimming and Diving

John Dussliere, former US Olympic coach

No one has given more. The depth of this man’s commitment and love for the sport of swimming and his remarkable…

Posted by John Dussliere on Friday, May 10, 2024


Katie Ledecky, 10-time Olympic medalist

Bob Bowman, former Michigan head coach, Urbanchek’s successor at U of M

Ryan Lochte, 12-time Olympic medalist

Anthony Nesty, Florida head coach

Braden Holloway, NC State head coach

Mike Bottom, former Michigan head coach

Stefanie Moreno, Georgia women’s swim & dive head coach

Kaitlin Sandeno Hogan, 4-time Olympic medalist

He brought the sunshine no matter the weather. Urbs would walk into early morning practice in frigid Ann Arbor, Michigan…

Posted by Kaitlin Sandeno Hogan on Monday, May 13, 2024

Summer Sanders, 4-time Olympic medalist

The last time I spoke to Jon, believe it or not, it was about horses. I have known Jon since 1990. He always, always…

Posted by Summer Sanders on Friday, May 10, 2024

Mats Nygren, swam at Michigan under Urbanchek

Words don’t say so much and it’s hard to add something that someone already hasn’t said. All I can say is thanks Jon!…

Posted by Mats Nygren on Saturday, May 11, 2024

Ous Mellouli, 3-time Olympic medalist for Tunisia

Urby is gone but his legacy lives on – a legend and my great friend.I already miss my cool calm and collected friend….

Posted by Oussama Mellouli on Friday, May 10, 2024

Eric Wunderlich, US Olympian and 5-time World Championship medlaist

Jon Charles Urbanchek meant a lot to us as a mentor, a coach, father / father figure, a comedian and a coffee lover…but…

Posted by Eric Wunderlich on Friday, May 10, 2024

We asked on X for people to share their favorite memories of Jon Urbanchek. Replies came from former swimmers (both those who swam under Urbanchek and swam against his teams, as well as coaches, former Michigan swim campers, and those who just met him by random chance. These replies really paint the picture of Urbanchek, who outwardly valued the friendships and relationships made through sport over the ultimate performances.

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Eric Angle
1 month ago

Here’s a story Tom Dolan tells about Urbanchek at Dolan’s legendary 1995 NCAAs:


1 month ago

Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team (FAST) in Souther California A club Jon Started in 1964, last year, has started a mid June Jon Urbanchek Invitational. With full intention to honor Jon’s legacy. Now it will be as a memorial. Information available on the Southern California Swimming website. “Keep it Moving”