Competitor Coach of the Month: Eddie Reese, Texas Legend

Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

Coach of the Month, Coach of the Year, Coach of the Decade. Even those don’t go far enough back.

Eddie Reese has been a swim coaching legend for as long as many of us can remember. He ended his storied head coaching career this month with his NCAA-record 15th team title, in a year where the Texas swimmers showed up in full force. No other coach in history has won more than 11 swimming & diving team titles.

The Texas men won two relay events this year, but no other swimming events. The depth of the Longhorns was what carried the day. Through top-notch recruiting and great athlete development, Reese’s program produced 20 individual scorers, with every single swimmer on the NCAA roster scoring points. That included 16 swimmers and four divers.

In addition, Texas had to scratch three swimmers with times seeded to score, just to get under the NCAA roster cap. Texas ultimately had 26 swimmers and four divers earn NCAA invites, a remarkable accomplishment for any program.

On the heels of his 15th team title, Reese announced his retirement, though he’ll remain in his role through this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and will remain in a “coach emeritus” role after that. In his retirement press conference, Reese suggested that that role would continue to be hands-on with coaching practices.

“I’ve said for years that if I can just go to practice and not go to meets, I could coach ‘til I’m 100,” Reese said. “So as long as my mind is good, my jokes are good, I’m going to keep doing it.” After a pause, he added “My jokes are always good.”

Coach Reese’s iconic wit makes even his press conferences must-see TV. Even off-camera and off-the-record, Reese is a joy – honest, funny, humble, self-deprecating, and most of all, always focused on his athletes. We captured some of Reese’s best witticisms in this video compilation yesterday.

Perhaps most impressive about Reese’s run, though, is that at his retirement, the accolades from alumni, fans, fellow coaches, and swimming observers have focused less on Reese’s NCAA successes and more on his team culture and the care he had for each and every athlete as a person.

Reese has consistently said he doesn’t talk about winning – though Texas did enough of it in his 43 years to make up for any lack of oratory. He summed up his admirable coaching philosophy in his press conference:

“That’s one of our mottos as a team: Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. That takes care of everything else.”

Swimming has been lucky to have Eddie Reese.


About Competitor Swim

Since 1960, Competitor Swim® has been the leader in the production of racing lanes and other swim products for competitions around the world. Competitor lane lines have been used in countless NCAA Championships, as well as 10 of the past 13 Olympic Games. Molded and assembled using U.S. – made components, Competitor lane lines are durable, easy to set up and are sold through distributors and dealers worldwide.

Competitor Swim is a SwimSwam partner. 

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2 years ago

But, enough about Eddie. Let’s talk about his family and people around the program that Eddie built. I told this story 4 years ago, but some people might now have read it. NCAAs at Atlanta. I took our son, 14 at that time, on a last minute notice. Due to the nature off my work and traveling a lot, I cannot buy tickets 3 months in advance, so we go there without tickets. Thursday morning, we ask for tickets from people entering and the first person is a young blond lady and she said she did not have and apologized. We then found tickets for the morning session but still did not have for finals and next 2 days. So… Read more »

Reply to  PsychoDad
2 years ago

Brendan Hansen may not have been as kind tho

2 years ago

Absolutely THE best coach and human being in the swimming community!

Steve Wierhake
2 years ago

It’s pretty cool that Eddie’s brother Randy has also had a very successful career as a swim coach.

Reply to  Steve Wierhake
2 years ago

And Randy continues to coach at the club level (Clearwater, FL) today. Guess he has a few more years before retiring being the “little” brother 🙂

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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