Former Oakland University swimmer and captain Tom Allen passed away last Saturday while competing in the Escape from Alcatraz Swim. Allen was team captain on the first-ever men’s swimming and diving national championship team in 1980.
“The Oakland family is saddened and diminished with the tragic loss of friend and colleague Tommy Allen,” said former Athletics Director and Coach Corey Van Fleet. “Tom became an instant friend to all who met him, and through his leadership and example, folks raised their personal expectations, goals and performance to higher levels. A cheerful young man with boundless energy, quick wit, and enormous intellectual and athletic capacity, Tommy is the benchmark describing the successful Oakland University student-athlete and alumnus. All who knew Tommy will miss him, but never forget him.”
Tom was born in Dayton, Ohio and graduated from Eastwood Collegiate High School in Kitchener Ontario, Canada. He swam at Oakland from 1977-80, breaking school and pool records in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events. Tom helped the team capture the national title in 1980 over Cal State Northridge in Youngstown, Ohio. He garnered All-American honors in the 100 breast, 200 breast, and 400 medley relay, and became Oakland’s first-ever NCAA Post-Graduate Scholar recipient.
“I am deeply saddened by the untimely death of Tom Allen,” said Ernie Maglischo, Oakland swim coach from 1979-81. “I only had the pleasure of coaching Tom for one year. He was, at first, wary of me, having had an extremely good relationship with his former Coach, Corey Van Fleet. Nevertheless, by the end of the season we were close friends and remained so in the intervening years.”
“Tom was enthusiastic, friendly and had a great sense of humor that kept everyone around happy. An excellent team leader, astute judge of character, loyal teammate and good friend, Tom was one of Oakland swimming’s pioneers in every way. I am so pleased that his teammates have chosen to honor his significant contribution to Oakland swimming by establishing a scholarship in his name. It is a fitting tribute to one of Oakland’s revered alumni.”
After leaving Oakland, Tom earned his law degree from Wayne State and practiced law in Detroit and then later in Atlanta. He was a partner in Burr & Forman, LLP’s Torts Trail and Insurance Practice Group. Over the course of his career, Tom had successful nation-wide practice in the fields of products liability and toxic tort litigation.
A memorial service will be held this Saturday, Oct. 4, 2 p.m. at H.M. Patterson & Son-Spring Hill Chapel, 1020 Spring Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30309. Visitation will be held beforehand at 1 p.m.
Tom is survived by his wife, Aiming Sun Allen, as well as his mother, Yvonne Allen of Ann Arbor, Mich.; sister, Laura Allen of Salt Spring Island, Canada and sister Jackie of Edmonton, Canada; brother Bruce Allen of Taipei, Taiwan; sister Rebecca Allen of Los Angeles, Calif.; brothers Johnny Allen of Michigan, a former Oakland swimmer, and Larry Allen of Michigan. His mother-in-law, sisters-in-law in China, as well as many nieces and nephews also survive him.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to Oakland University’s Men’s Swimming Fund. Checks should be made payable to Oakland University and sent to: Oakland University, Gift Accounting, John Dodge House, 2200 N. Squirrel Road, Rochester, MI 48309. Per Tom’s wishes, please include a note indicating the gift is made in his memory and should be directed to support the Men’s Swimming Fund.
College Swimming News courtesy of Oakland University.