First African-American High School All-American Ed Kirk Dies at 87

Ed Kirk, who according to his obituary was the first African-American to be named a High School All-American in swimming, died on April 16th in Tampa, Florida.

Kirk swam for the DuSable High School Swim Team in Illinois, where he became the state’s first-ever black swimming champion in 1950. He also served as a team captain while earning All-American honors. He would go on to swim on a scholarship at Tennessee A&I University (now Tennessee State), where he swam for 3 seasons from 1950-1952. In 1957, he was one of 4 swimmers to race on a U.S. Armed Forces team in Lamur, Belgium.

He would go on to be an active masters and open water swimmer, including one attempt in Lake Michigan, where he swam 25 miles in 16 hours before he was able to finish the 36.75 mile goal distance. After a career with the U.S. Postal Service, he served as an instructor with the Chicago Park District and would later coach at the Brandon Swim and Tennis Club in Florida; Athletic Club of Temple Terrace; River Hills, and for the Brandon and Armwood High School teams.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Esther; children, Edward Jr., Alden, Loana, Ivan, Catherine, and Erin; sisters, Beatrice(Turner), Annabelle (Candis); six grandchildren; four great grandchildren; a host of nieces and nephews and cousins as well as many swimmers, fellow coaches, and friends in the Tampa area and in Chicago. Ed was preceded in death by his son, Wyatt; brother, Wyatt; and sister, Clarice (Jones).

In lieu of flowers, contributions are welcome to the Brandon Sports and Aquatics Center, a 501c3 organization, where Ed taught and coached many people (Donate Here).

A celebration of life in Florida wwere held on Friday, April 27, 2018 at Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center, 405 Beverly Blvd., Brandon, FL 33511. A celebration of life in Chicago will be held 3 p.m. May 5, 2018 at New Life Covenant Church Southwest, 4338 South Prairie Ave., Chicago, IL 60653.

Leave a Reply

4 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

RIP in peace Ed

Brad Flood

God Speed Ed.

ASU fan

What a legacy he has left!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!