Peter Linn, the winningest coach in Easter Michigan University history, is retiring after 31 seasons at the helm of the swimming program (effective August 16), he told the team in an email.
“I learned to swim in an EMU pool in the basement of a building that has long since become a parking lot and attended middle school and high school on campus. All while watching the university establish a swimming program,” Linn wrote. “Now it is time to say good bye. My heart is filled with joys and regrets but no doubts. I have spent the greater portion of my adult life trying to build the best possible program at Eastern and it is simply not possible to describe my emotions as I step away. But I feel that this is the correct decision and that I have recognized the moment in which to make it.”
Linn attended EMU himself from 1969-74, and as a swimmer helped the team to a pair of NAIA team titles in 1970 and 1971, and the 1972 NCAA Division II Championship. He is the third-longest tenured coach in school history behind former track & field coach Bob Parks (33 years) and women’s gymnastics’ Steve Wilce (32 years).
He took over the men’s team ahead of the 1988-1989 season, leading it until it was cut from the school’s athletics programs last year. He has led the women’s team since the 2004-2005 season.
Under his watch, the Eagles accrued 26 Mid-American Conference Championships, including eight in a row from 1988-1996. For more than 19 seasons, the Linn’s team did not lose a MAC dual meet; he retires with an overall dual meet record of 308-101-1 (approximately a .75 winning percentage) and went 185-30 against MAC opponents.
Linn was the recipient of the 2018 National Collegiate and Scholastic Trophy from the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America. That season, Delaney Duncan became the school’s first-ever female NCAA A-finalist, and she went on to place second at NCAAs in the 100 breast in 2019. In March of 2018, the school announced it would cut the men’s swim team as part of a plan to cut four teams that was expected to lead to a $2.4 million expense reduction, and caused a massive uproar in the swim community (both among people with ties to the school and not). Athletes attempted to raise enough funds to save the team through social media campaigns, but the school was adamant that it would not be enough.
Linn’s retirement creates the latest Division I head coaching vacancy in an NCAA offseason that has seen nonstop turnover. With just weeks to go until the 2019-2020 season begins, 10 openings still remain: Saint Francis, Old Dominion, West Point, Pacific, SMU, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Eastern Illinois, New Mexico, Valparaiso, and now, Eastern Michigan.