Renowned Etobicoke Swimming Head Coach Kevin Thorburn Dies At 63

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.

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.

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Anne (Goldie) Davies
3 years ago

I have known the thorburn brothers’ since the early early 70’s. We all belonged to a little known swim club – Killarney swim club. So many fun times and precious memories. We had so much fun when our families got together for summer picnics at Alice Lake. Kevin, you and your brothers made my teenage years exciting and unforgettable. You will be missed dear friend but never forgotten.


Bill Park
3 years ago

The world lost a great person first and swim coach second!

Bill Reason
3 years ago

This news is devastating. Kevin was an amazing coach and mentor. His legacy lives on through the athletes he nurtured.

O.Thomas Johnson
3 years ago

Thoughts and prayers to Kevin, his family, and to Etobicoke Swim Club.

3 years ago

Wow! Sad day! Our condolences to the family…

Rick Paine
3 years ago

The swimming world lost one of the good ones.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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