In Memoriam: Remembering The People Swimming Lost In 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, we take a look back at all of those the swimming community has lost over the last 12 months.

John Harrison

The record-breaking Masters swimmer died at the age of 105 in January. Harrison was the first British man to set a world best time in the 100-104 years age group and achieved five records in that category during his centenary year.

Priscilla Davis

Davis died on February 4th at the age of 85. She was an award-winning swimming official in New England and a fixture in the area’s swimming scene for decades.

Joe Suriano

Suriano died in February after serving as the diving coach and a physical education instructor at the United States Naval Academy for 35 years. During his tenure Suriano saw 12 of his divers qualify for 22 NCAA Division I Championship meets and earn 15 All-America accolades.

Murray Drudge

The Canadian coach died unexpectedly on February 17th at the age of 61. Most recently coaching the North York Aquatic Club (NYAC) and at the High Performance Center – Ontario, Drudge held head coaching positions in Regina, Ottawa and North York over his 30-year career.

Dick Duncan

A longtime swimming official in Indiana, Duncan died at the age of 73 on February 15. He officiated at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and had been selected as a starter for the 2020 Trials.

Eva Szekely

The 1952 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 200 meter breaststroke, Szekely died at the age of 92 on February 29. The Hungarian was a 1976 inductee into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and, as a Jewish woman, incredibly used swimming to survive the holocaust.

Jerry Carlson

Carlson died at 85 on February 29 after serving as a high school swim coach in Minnesota for 46 years. He was inducted into the Minnesota Swimming and Diving Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005 before retiring in 2007.

Mike Hastings

Hastings was the longtime coach of four-time Olympic medalist Summer Sanders and founded California Capital Aquatics in 1983 before building into a national powerhouse. A 1991 USA Swimming Award-winner, Hastings was inducted into American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2013.

Alexander Makarov

The Russian para swimmer died at the age of 23 in early March. Makarov won three gold medals at last fall’s World Para Swimming World Championships.

Vittorio Gregotti

The Italian architect who redesigned Barcelona’s Olympic stadium for the 1992 Olympic and Paralympic Games died on March 15 at the age of 92 due to COVID-19.

George Corones

The Australian Masters swimmer died on March 28th at the age of 101. Corones currently holds the short course world records in the 50 and 100 free for 94-99 and 100-104 year olds, and became the first person aged 100+ to break 1:00 in the SCM 50 freestyle.

John Davies

The 1952 Olympic champion died on March 25th at the age of 90. An Australian native, Davies was one of the early pioneers in butterfly-breaststroke (modern-day butterfly), and won gold at the 1952 Games in Helsinki in the men’s 200 breast.

Ksenia Vereshchagina

The 32-year old retired Russian swimmer died on April 6 at 32 after an undisclosed lengthy illness. Vereshchagina represented Russia multiple times on the international stage and was the 2006 national champion in the women’s 200 breaststroke.

Becca Evans

Evans, a dedicated volunteer with the Rhondda Polar Bears disabled swimming club, died on April 9 due to COVID-19 at just 28 years of age. The Wales native had “lost everything” as a result of floods caused by Storm Dennis in February.

Lukman Niode

The 1984 Indonesian Olympian died on April 17 at 56. Niode was also a nine-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist.

Kevin Thorburn

The Canadian club coach and three-time Olympic staff member died on April 21 at the age of 63. Thorborn coached 18 swimmers to Canadian national titles and was the Head Coach at the Etobicoke Swim Club for the last 21 years.

Steve Franks

The CEO of UK-based swim lesson group Water Babies, Franks died as a result of COVID-19 on April 30.

Kamil Cepelak

Cepelak, a Fairmont State University swimming alumnus and Born To Swim co-founder died at the age of 40 after a battle with colon cancer.

Dave Tanner

The Indiana University alumnus died on May 8 at the age of 70 after a bout with lymphoma. Tanner was recruited by legendary coach Doc Counsilman to attend Indiana University in 1968, and he would go on to be ingrained in the Bloomington community throughout his life.

Tom Bruce

The 1972 Olympic gold medalist died on April 9 after a 10-month battle with cancer at 67. Bruce won a gold medal as part of the winning American 400 medley relay at the 1972 Olympic Games and added an individual silver in the 100 breaststroke.

Al Switzer

The former coach of the University of Maine and Plymouth State University swimming teams, Switzer died at 90 in early May.

Rusty Owens

Owens, who coached swimmers at all levels for 60 years in the Harrisburg area in Central Pennsylvania, died at the age of 84 in May.

Coaracy Nunes

The former president of the Brazilian Confederation of Aquatic Sports (CBDA), Nunes died on May 14 at the age of 82. Nunes presided over the CBDA for 29 years, from 1988 to 2017. He was removed after being found guilty of committing financial fraud.

Bill Keating Sr.

Keating Sr., a Cincinnati swimming alumnus who went on to be a congressman, died May 20 at the age of 93.

Don Kimble

A long-time swim coach in Michigan, Kimble died on May 25 at the age of 60 due to cancer. He coached in the West Michigan community dating back to 1980, winning six high school state championship titles before being inducted into the MHSAA Hall of Fame in 2014.

Don Varner

The longtime YMCA Swimming official died on May 22 at the age of 91. Varner served the YMCA community for more than 40 years.

Rod Harman

The Oregon high school coach died on May 22 at the age of 93 from sudden Cardiac arrest. Harman coached three Olympians and over 60 All-American high school swimmers during his career, and was induced into the National High School Hall of Fame in 2012.

Frank Piemme

The 49-time FINA masters world record holder died at the age of 95 in late May. Piemme was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a masters honoree in 2004.

Tony Kennedy

Kennedy, a Canadian coach who helped establish a prominent team in the Bahamas Swimming Federation, died in late May at the age of 78. Kennedy helped to establish the Barracuda Swim Club in the Bahamas, and coached them from 1984-87 and again from 1989-2000.

Morgan Burke

The former vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics at Purdue from 1993 to 2016, died June 15 at 68 after a year-long battle with amyloidosis.

George Klumb

Klumb, who coached Illinois’ Naperville North High School From 1976-1995, died on June 12. Naperville North won eleven sectional titles under Klumb’s guidance.

Jaylon Nixon

Nixon was killed in a car crash at just 18 years of age on June 21. He was a member of the Southern Connecticut State University men’s swimming and diving team.

Ashutosh Gupta

Gupta, a national-level swimmer and swim coach in India, died due to COVID-19 in June at just 26 years of age.

Aleksandr Kabanov

The former Soviet water polo player and coach died on June 30 at the age of 72. Kabanov represented the Soviet Union at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, being one of only four water polo players to ever win two Olympic gold medals for the country.

David Dunlap

A renowned Indiana high school coach, Dunlap died on July 11 at the age of 78. Dunlap won three state titles with Riley High School, and spent the first eight of his 28 years coaching with South Bend Jackson High School, which ultimately merged with Riley in 1975.

Xu Guoyi

Xu died at the age of 50 due to brain cancer on July 19. Most recently, he had coached 2012 Olympic champion Ye Shiwen and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Xu Jiayu.

Dan Flannery

The Iowa high school swimming head coach died on July 21 after suffering a brain injury. Flannery had been coach of the Ames High School boys’ team since 1998 and the girls’ team since 2002.

Kerry Croswhite

An Arizona high school swimming coach, Croswhite died on July 21 after succumbing to COVID-19. He was 61.

Bob Menck

The longtime New England Swimming official died on July 21 at the age of 59 due to a heart condition.

Karen Cermak

The Speedo Sports Marketing Manager died from cancer on July 17. Cermak worked at Speedo for over 10 years, beginning as a Sports Marketing Representative, eventually being promoted to the Sports Marketing Manager for the west coast.

Gennadi Touretski

Touretski, the longtime of Russian legend Alexander Popov, died in early August at 71 after suffering a stroke. In addition to Popov, a nine-time Olympic medalist, Touretski coached Australian Michael Klim to six Olympic medals.

Ramiro Tossone

Tossone, a Spanish native, died at just 19 on August 8. A local news outlet reported that his death came due to a breath holding exercise during a practice.

Barry Watson

The Open water swimmer died at the age of 81 in August. Watson formerly held the fastest time to swim the English Channel, doing so in nine hours, 35 minutes back in 1964 at the age of 26. The record stood until 1981. He also coached two of the world’s best triathletes, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, to a combined four Olympic medals.

Andy Burke

The former USA Water Polo administrator died at the age of 91 on August 21. Burke was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2018. Over his 50-year tenure at USA Water Polo, Burke also was the team manager for the US Men’s Olympic Water Polo team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Scott Sherwood

The longtime Hawaii Swim Club coach died on August 3 at the age of 48. Sherwood worked at HSC in Oahu while working full-time at Waipahu Intermediate School, coaching several standout athletes including Olympian Christel Simms who represented the Philippines in Beijing.

Bill Yorzyk

The 1956 Olympic gold medalist in the men’s 200 butterfly died on August 30 at the age of 87. At those 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Yorzyk made history as the first swimmer to ever win Olympic gold medal in a butterfly event.

Jakob Mumper

A member of the swim teams at the Indiana Swim Club and Bloomington North High School, Mumper was killed on September 6 in a homicide-suicide, along with his mother, Greta, and sister, Emma. He was a high school senior who had won consecutive sectional titles in the men’s 100 freestyle.

Ian Miskelley

The University of Michigan swimmer died on September 7 just two weeks shy of his 20th birthday. Miskelley was set to enter his junior season with the Wolverines. He was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection for the Wolverines and twice won the U-M Athletic Academic Achievement Award.

John Ferris

The 1968 US Olympian died at the age of 71 in September due to lung cancer. Ferris, who competed for Stanford collegiately, held the world record in the men’s 200 butterfly for just over a month in 1967, clocking 2:06.00 to win gold at the World University Games in Tokyo.

James T. Willerson

Willerson was a former swimmer at the University of Texas who went on to become the President Emeritus of the Texas Heart Institute (THI). He died in September.

Emily Caras Snyder

Caras Snyder died at just 33 due to cardiac arrest on September 17.  She was inducted into the Maine Swimming Hall of Fame in 2018 as a five-time state record-breaker, and would go on to have a successful collegiate career at Cornell. At the time of her passing, Caras Snyder held 37 Maine LSC records.

Thomas “Wyatt” Balman

The Soka University of America swimmer died on October 13 at just 20 years of age. The cause of death was reportedly drowning. Balman had completed two years competing for the Lions after graduating from Manhattan High School in 2018.

Lee Lawrence

Lawrence, a member of the Navy Men’s Swimming coaching staff for 36 years, died at the age of 82 in mid-October.

Frank Legacki

The Michigan swimming legend died at the age of 81 due to complications with metastatic prostate cancer in October. Legacki was on Michigan’s NCAA winning teams in 1959 and 1961, and also set an American Record in the SCY 100 butterfly.

Anna Maria Thrash

Thrash, a Masters swim coach and triathlon coach at the Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta, Georgia, died on October 8 at 59. In over 30 years of coaching experience, she earned a reputation as one of the top Masters swim coaches in the country.

Don Talbot

The all-time great Australian coach died on November 3 at the age of 87. Talbot was the driving force behind Australia becoming a swimmer powerhouse in the 1960s and 1970s, and also spent time coaching in Canada and the United States during his career. A 1979 inductee in the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Talbot closed out his career with a pair of incredibly successful showings from Australia at the 2000 Olympic Games and 2001 World Championships.

Kelvin Juba

Juba, a longtime contributor for LEN who also the project manager for the organization’s “Learn to Swim, Prevent Drowning” program, died in early November. He also wrote numerous books geared toward swimming fitness.

Bob Loy

Loy, who coached the Bloomington High School swim team for nearly 40 years, died in late October at 65. He swam at Illinois State University where he earned All-American status.

Tom Burek

Burek died due to COVID-19 on December 12 at the age of 62. He had served as the head swim coach and aquatics director of Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois since 2013.

Kacie Van Buskirk

Van Buskirk swam for four years at the University of Denver before returning to West Lyon East High School, where she was a standout swimmer, to be the assistant swim coach. She held that position for five years before dying in mid-December at the age of 27.

Jimmy McLane

A three-time Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder, McLane died at the age of 90 in mid-December. McLane won gold at the 1948 Games in London in the 1500 free and 4×200 free relay, setting a WR in the latter, and went on to help the U.S. repeat in the relay four years later in Helsinki.

Kendall Pickering

Pickering was killed at the age of 15, along with her father, Robert (59), in a car crash on December 15 while on a trip to visit colleges. Pickering was a sophomore at Hinsdale Central High School, having set pool records in October in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM at a high school Sectional meet.

Mariana Franklin Ferreira Silva

The 14-year-old Brazilian died from a lung infection on December 19. Franklin Ferreira Silva had tested positive for COVID-19 in November, showing mild symptoms, and had competed at a meet December 9-10.

Klavio Meca

The Albanian record holder died at the age of 24 in late December. Meca competed for Albania at the 2017 World Championships.

To all those others in the swimming community who lost a loved one this year, may you find peace and comfort in the community of the pool.

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olde coach
5 months ago

Thank you for publishing. A lot of great names along with a ton of memories. May they all rest in peace.

Monty Hopkins
5 months ago

THE DASH – the poem by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we… Read more »

5 months ago

Is Szekely related to Allie?

Reply to  Hswimmer
5 months ago

No known close relation, though Eva is part of a famous aquatics family in Hungary.

Szekely is a fairly common last name in Hungary, and in fact is an entire ethnic subgroup in the country. Really a fascinating history, if you’re into that kind of thing –

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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