In Memoriam: Remembering the People Swimming Lost in 2022

by Riley Overend 6

January 01st, 2023 News

With 2022 officially in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look back at some of the figures who the swimming community lost in the past year.

Jan. 9 – Former University of Rochester coach and technique guru Bill Boomer died at 85. 

Jan. 29 – 16-time Massachusetts high school championship coach Don Lemieux died at 65 years old.

Feb. 17 – High school junior Mya Thompson died in a fire just days after swimming at Indiana’s state championships.

Feb. 20 – 1980 Olympic gold medalist Oleksandr Sydorenko, sometimes anglicized as Alexander Sidorenko, died from a COVID-19 infection at 61 years old.

March 15 – 1936 Canadian Olympic swimmer and former world record holder Joan McLagan died at 99 years old. 

March 17 – Former Ukraine water polo captain Eugine Obedinskiy was just 39 years old when he was killed in a bombing in Mariupol, Ukraine. 

March 25 – Minnesota club coach Maggie McMahon died unexpectedly from a stroke at 37. 

March 26 – Hall of Fame coach Bill Spahn died at 79 years old after suffering a heart attack during a Masters meet. 

April 5 – Saint Louis University swimmer Sean North died at 20 years old. 

April 9 – Trevor Harrop, one of the last surviving members of the 1948 British Olympic swim team, died just 10 days shy of his 95th birthday. 

April 15 – USA Swimming coach Jim Puleo passed away. 

May 7 – Renowned swim coach and NCAA champion Dick Fadgen died at 86 after a battle with cancer. 

June 25 – Olympic gold medalist Bill Woolsey, Indiana’s first NCAA champion, died at 87.

July 6 – Longtime swimming announcer Sam Kendricks died after a battle with cancer.

July 13 – 1976 U.S. Olympian Holly Renee Magee died at 63 after dealing with a brain tumor. 

July 16 – Legendary Indiana diving coach Hobie Billingsley died at 94. 

July 17 – Former Cincinnati swimmer John Miller was killed in a hit-and-run car crash at 26 years old. 

July 27 – Northern Iowa swimmer Lily Ernst died at age 20. 

Aug. 2 – Famed English Channel swimmer Brenda Fisher died at 95 years old. 

Aug. 4 – SwimSwam contributor and renowned swimming technical analyst Stefano Nurra died at 52 years old. 

Aug. 16 – International Swimming Hall of Fame coach Dick Jochums died at 81 years old. 

Aug. 24 – Former New Zealand Olympic coach David Wright died at 74 after a battle with kidney disease. 

Sept. 5 – 54-year-old Long Beach Masters swimmer Gustavo Penilla died after suffering from a heart attack during the annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

Sept. 8 – Queen Elizabeth II, an award-winning swimmer as a teenager, died at 96.

Oct. 1 – Controversial former Olympic coach Joe Bernal died. 

Oct. 13 – Former Brown swimmer Jameson McMullen died at 22.

Oct. 24 – Michael Phelps announced that his dad, Fred, passed away. 

Oct. 25 – Former Stanford men’s water polo coach Dante Dettamanti died in a bycicle accident at 80 years old. 

Nov. 1 – Former Australian coach John Wright died in custody at age 79 while awaiting trial for child sexual abuse charges from the 1980s. 

Nov. 7 – Israel’s first Olympic swimmer, Nachum Buch, died at 89. 

Late November – Former Stanford head coach Skip Kennney died at 79. 

Nov. 27 – Former University of Illinois head coach Don Sammons died at 90 years old. 

Dec. 16 – Duke head coach Dan Colella died as a result of complications from prostate cancer in December at 60 years old.

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Swimmin in the South
10 months ago

Also, Jack Barnacastle passed away suddenly February 19th. Long time coach and founder of Birmingham Swim League in Birmingham, AL. Obit:

10 months ago

You forgot György Tumpek (Hungary), the 1956 Olympic bronze medalist in the 200 m fly, who died on the 21 of December.

Last edited 10 months ago by kim
Kim O’Shea
10 months ago

Sadly, please add Dec. 30: Carrollwood Village Swim Team Coach Jim Kelly passed after a battle with cancer.

Jay Ryan
10 months ago

Finally, Queen Elizabeth II makes the big time with Swimswam shout out.

Alison England
Reply to  Jay Ryan
10 months ago

As if she hadn’t already had enough coverage!

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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