Canadian club coach and three-time Olympic staff member Kevin Thorburn has died at the age of 63.
Thorburn was the Director of Swimming and Head Coach at Etobicoke Swim Club, a position he held for 21 years. He coached 18 swimmers to Canadian National titles over the course of his career and served on the Canadian Olympic coaching staff in 1996, 2012 and 2016.
It is with heavy hearts that we regret to inform you of the sudden passing of Head Coach Kevin Thorburn. Our thoughts and condolences are with Coach Thorburn’s family and friends. As the head of the ESWIM family, he will be deeply missed – Kevin Thorburn – 1956-2020 pic.twitter.com/JQP8ghY1kO
— ESWIM – Etobicoke Swim Club (@ESWIMofficial) April 21, 2020
Thorburn began his career in 1976, coaching summer club in British Columbia, and took his first full-time position in 1984 with the Regina Dolphins. After spending time with Manta, the Pacific Dolphins and the Canadian Kodiac Swim Club in Winnipeg, he was hired by Etobicoke in April of 1999.
Thorburn successfully coached swimmers to over 30 Canadian National Records, over 300 National Age Group Records and over 600 Provincial Records. In addition to serving on three Olympic teams, he also coached two World Championships (2009, 2011), two Commonwealth Games (1998, 2002) and three Pan Pacific Championships (1995, 1999, 2006).
Some of the athletes he led to Olympic berths include Riley Mants (1996), Jenna Gresdal (2000), Alexa Komarnycky (2008), Amanda Reason (2012) and Brittany Maclean (2012, 2016). Maclean was a bronze medalist in 2016 on the Canadian women’s 800 free relay.
“Kevin was Etobicoke Swimming, for over 25 years he led one of the most successful programs in Canada,” MacLean said of her former coach. “He helped shape me into the person I am today. He had the expertise, passion, and pride for what he did and everyone that was coached or mentored by him, could see that.
“He brought me from my first national standard, through 2 Olympic Games and to the podium. I’m forever grateful for the lessons I learned, people I met, and places I went due to the opportunities he gave me. It breaks my heart knowing that future generations will not be able to directly feel his impact, but we will work hard to keep up the legacy he left.”
Most recently, Thorburn coached a pair of swimmers, Alexander Milanovich and Katrina Bellio, onto the 2019 Canadian World Junior Championship team. In total, he led 15 swimmers to Junior Worlds teams beginning in 2006.
The cause of death has not been released at this time.