Former SMU Head Coach Eddie Sinnott Dies, 70

Long-Time SMU head coach Eddie Sinnott, who led the men’s swimming & diving program for 30 years, has died after a brief battle with illness. He turned 70 this month.

Sinnott retired in 2019.

In the last 23 years, the team has won 16 conference titles and Sinnott has earned a total of 16 conference Coach of the Year honors (across multiple conferences). The team finished in the top 15 at the NCAA National Championship meet 11 times, and SMU athletes won 80 individual All-America honors and 59 relay All-America honors.

Internationally, he’s coached 11 athletes to 7 different Olympic Games since 1992. That includes a pair of Olympic gold medals, from Ryan Berube on thee American 800 free relay team in 1996 and from Lars Frolander in the 100 fly in 2000. Both swimmers were named NCAA Swimmer of the Year in their time at SMU – Berube in 1996 and Frolander in 1998. The 1990s were the peak of the Sinnott era at SMU: the Mustangs finished in the top 10 at NCAAs every year from 1991 through 1998, though they haven’t been back since. SMU had no men’s qualifiers to the NCAA Championships last season, and a year prior were tied for 40th (last place) with 1 point.

Sinnott was the men’s head coach for team USA at the World University Games in 1993 and has had several other international appointments with USA Swimming. He was Haiti’s head swimming coach at the 1996 Olympic Games.

In 2019, Sinnott was selected by his peers for the 2019 National Collegiate Scholastic Trophy. The trophy is presented annually by both the CSCAA and the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) to the coach who, in the estimation of the recipient’s peers, has made the greatest contribution to swimming as a competitive sport, and as a healthful, recreational activity in the province of undergraduate and scholastic education.

A four-year letterwinner at SMU from 1973-76, Sinnott was the SWC champion in the 400 IM in 1973 and earned All-America honors in both 1973 and 1974. Born in Greenwich, Conn., Sinnott and his wife, Sioux, have two daughters K.C. and Silver Ann.

16 Conference Team Championships
WAC (4): 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
NIC (5): 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
C-USA (7): 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013

16 Coach of the Year Honors
SWC (3), WAC (3), NIC (3), C-USA (6), Big 8 (1)

Sinnott is best remembered as the head coach at SMU, but he was also an assistant coach on the staff at LSU when they won an SEC title in 1988. That staff included names like Sam Freas, Donnie Crane, and Rick Meador, and the team included swimmers who would go on to be big-time head coaches like Neil Harper and Ned Skinner.

Sinnott also played a huge role in the construction of the new Robson & Lindley Aquatic Center.

The last column standing. Tomorrow only memories. Oh but what memories. My favorite was Dec 2 1972 SMU beats USC packed house my first dual meet as a Mustang. Will never forget it.

Posted by Eddie Sinnott on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Remembering Coach Sinnott

Eddie’s daughter KC posted a moving remembrance of her father on Facebook on Wednesday morning.

“Yesterday, my dad Eddie Sinnott took his last breath. I have yet to find words big enough to describe how deeply his absence will be felt.

If I had to come up with one word to describe my dad, it would be community.

He built and fostered communities wherever he went. Once you were ‘his’, he was fiercely protective. He never once hesitated though, to tell you something new about yourself, but at the end of the day you knew he had your back.

He dedicated his adult life to the sport of swimming. It was and is incredible to witness and be a part of the community that he cultivated with the mentorship and guidance of Coach Mac. Eddie made his team part of our family, the patchwork was so neatly sewn that it was almost impossible to separate the two. Something equally impressive, is that in his time at SMU he taught around 2,300 kids how to swim through the Summer Swim Program. He leaves behind a legacy of advocacy for swimming and his athletes.

I would also like to thank the community of Stover for supporting Dad in this last year, and for continuing to care for my mom Sioux Sinnott during this time. Eddie truly loved ‘life on the Hollow’ in his retirement and felt loved every minute he was here.

Until we can collectively grieve together in person (service information TBA), please share with us your favorite Eddie moment.”

Sinnott’s sense of community was seen in the big things and even in the small things – for the country’s “congress of coaches,” Sinnott was always among the first to post a happy birthday message on their Facebook pages.

The post has become a place for friends, family, and former swimmers to remember Coach Sinnott, with hundreds of loved ones pouring out memories.

Yesterday, my dad Eddie Sinnott took his last breath. I have yet to find words big enough to describe how deeply his…

Posted by KC Sinnott on Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A celebration of life will be held at SMU on March 15.

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Robert Winningham
1 month ago

I first came across Eddie when I was a swimmer for the City of Richardson (COR) Swim Tesm and we were practicing at the SMU Red Barr outdoor pool. He was the SMU assistant coach in the lanes next to ours. I could hear him joking and having fun with his swimmers and I thought, “I sure would like to seim for him someday!” Not too many years later, I was an assistant coach for COR and got to know him personally. He always took an interest in me and supported me as I was beginning my coaching career. What a truly warm, caring person he was to others! I will always have great memories of Coach Eddie Sinnott. RIP,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Robert Winningham
KC Sinnott
1 month ago

Thank you all for your support and wonderful words.

I was lucky to have my Dad show me the importance of kindness, humility, accountability, acceptance, and community. Working as a lifeguard at Barr Pool only gave me a greater chance to bond with my Dad and see how he was with his athletes in a bigger light. It shaped me. I will forever be a Coach’s daughter.

John Kirsch
1 month ago

I swam at LSU (85-89) when Eddie was there. He was just the greatest guy; always helpful if I needed anything, even life advice (which I needed a lot back then). He had a great sense of humor, too. He will be missed…

Travis Stensby
1 month ago

KC’s words could not have been more true. Eddie was hesitant to accept me as the women’s volunteer assistant. When I asked at the beginning of the season, if he needed help with the men’s team, I got a cold shoulder. Halfway through the year, I started to earn his trust. By the end of the season, he made sure I kept my watch out for the men’s practice. I can still hear him calling me a “Mustang” when would show up to open swim years later.

RIP Coach.

Last edited 1 month ago by Travis Stensby
Greg Werner
1 month ago

3 pointer + a lay-up. Just an uplifting, positive presence. A great story teller, even better teacher. Thank you for your friendship my friend.

Sioux, K.C. and Silver Ann: my hugs, thoughts and love for you. As with Fan, the streets of Heaven have another Angel tonight. 3 pointer + a lay-up.

Greg

Jim Montgomery
1 month ago

First of all I want to give my sincere condolences to Sioux and family on Eddie’s passing, one fine human being, husband, father, friend and mentor to a whole lot of people. My favorite Eddie memory was the very first time we met. April 1979 and I just arrived in Dallas. It was literally my second night in Dallas so I decided to check out the lower Greenville Ave nightlife. I am in the Greenville Bar and Grill all by my lonesome when who walks up to me and says welcome to Dallas I want to be first to buy you a beer. Eddie became my new best friend right there it didn’t take long before we decided to sign… Read more »

mds
Reply to  Jim Montgomery
1 month ago

Greg and Jim,
I appreciate each of your reflections about Eddie. I didn’t see him as often as you guys, convention and a meet or two a year for 30+ years, but I can agree fully with the tone each of you reflect. I never interacted with Eddie when I didn’t have more of a smile (or an new insight) on my face after we were done than when we got together. I guess I agree with the community idea.

RIP, Coach Sinnott.

Let’s go to Luckenbach
1 month ago

From a Longhorn to my Mustang friends, I am very sorry for your loss. Eddie was a great leader, mentor and friend who left a positive imprint on all those that met him. He is gone too soon and will be missed. Pony up!

96Swim
1 month ago

Brilliant coach. Kind and funny man. Always made practice fun. He’ll be missed.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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, …

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