Jon Urbanchek Retires From Coaching, Wins 2020 USA Swimming Award

by Ben Dornan 17

September 25th, 2020 News

USA Swimming is holding a virtual version of its annual convention this weekend due to COVID-19 limitations. At tonight’s session, five awards were given to six long-standing members of USA Swimming who were recognized for their exceptional service and commitment to the sport.

2020 USA Swimming Award Winners:

  • Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award: George Ward
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award: Marvin A. Thorpe II
  • Kenneth J. Pettigrew Award: Jayne Spittler
  • Women in Swimming Award (Two recipients): Catherine Kase and Nadine Day
    USA Swimming Award:
    Jon Urbanchek
  • LEAP Awards: In the final year of the current LEAP Program, the following LSCs have renewed or achieved LEAP 3 status:
    • Indiana: $5,000
    • Maine: $2,500
    • Metropolitan: $5,000
    • North Carolina: $5,000
    • San Diego Imperial: $4,246

Legendary swim coach Jon Urbanchek was honored as the 2020 recipient of the USA Swimming Award, which the organization considers to be one of its highest honors.

Urbanchek has served on the coaching staff of six Olympic teams, spanning from 1992-2012 and has coached at least one swimmer to each Games since 1972.

Among those that he has coached to elite status are Mike Barrowman, Tom Dolan, Tom Malchow, Eric Namesnik, Eric Wunderlich, Gustavo Borges, and Brent Lang. During his career, he also coached the Michigan men’s swim team to the Big Ten title 13 times from 1983-2004. Urbanchek was the first-ever recipient of the IOC Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 and has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Following a storied career, Urbanchek retired from both coaching and his role as the USA Swimming National Team Technical Director on August 31.

Of Urbanchek, US National Team Managing Director Lindsay Mintenko said “Coach Urbanchek is a legend of our sport, admired by athletes and coaches alike. We have all learned at least a little something from him, and his retirement will be felt for a long time to come.”

Along with the USA Swimming Award, four more awards were given out at Friday’s ceremony.

Women in Swimming Award

The Women in Swimming Award is a new honor given for the first time in 2020, and it was given to two recipients: Catherine Kase and Nadine Day.

Past President of United States Masters Swimming (USMS), Nadine Day has been involved with USA Swimming for decades, qualifying for her first Junior Nationals at age 12 back in 1983 and was represented on the US National team in both 1985 and 1987.

She swam began swimming for Northwestern University in 1988 and retired from the sport in 1992. She made her return in 2001 when she began swimming with the USMS and has been involved ever since.

Beginning as Safety Education Committee Member in 2004, she has filled several roles throughout the years, including Swimming Saves Lives Foundation Member, Comp and Benefits Committee Chair, and Governance Committee Ex-Officio. Some of her past recognitions for her involvement in USMS include the U.S. Masters Swimming Dorothy Donnelly Service Award (2007), Ted Haartz U.S. Masters Swimming Staff Appreciation Award (2016), and the Capt. Ransom J. Arthur M.D. Award (2017).

Nadine Day shares the distinction of USA Swimming’s 2020 Women in Swimming Award with renowned open water coach, Catherine Kase.

Kase coached at USC from 2008 to 2020 and served as associate head coach for her final three seasons. In addition to her collegiate coaching career, she was the head coach of the US Olympic Open Water Team at the Rio Olympic Games and has earned the same position for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, in part due to her work with 2012 Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson.

Open Water Head Coaching Position

  • Olympics – 2016, 2020
  • World Championships – 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019
  • Pan Pacific Championships – 2014, 2016
  • Pan American Championships – 2007

Adolph Keifer Safety Commendation Award

The 2020 Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award went to long time USA Swimming member, George Ward. Ward served as Senior Director of Risk Management for USA Swimming from 2013 until 2020. In the position, he was responsible for “a comprehensive and effective risk management program for USA Swimming, liaison with insurance brokers and claim managers, and support the organization’s Safe Sport and Sports Medicine programs.” The award is presented by the Safety Education Committee to “an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to safe swimming in the United States.” The name of the award honors legendary American Olympian Adolph Kiefer who won a gold medal at the Berlin Games back in 1936 and was the first man to break the one-minute mark in the 100-yard backstroke, swimming a 59.8 in 1935 when he was 16.

Past Recipients

  • 1990 Deborah Packard
  • 1991 Priscilla Davis
  • 1992 Dan Mazzei
  • 1993 Askia Bashir
  • 1994 Moon Aqua Club
  • 1996 Steve Gordon
  • 1997 American Red Cross
  • 1999 Kristi Elliot
  • 2000 Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation
  • 2001 George Young
  • 2002 Adolph Keifer
  • 2004 Mike Stromberg
  • 2005 All Volunteer Relief Workers for Hurricane Katrina
  • 2006 Eric Fucito
  • 2007 Gary Hall Jr.
  • 2008 Jim Reiser
  • 2009 Jenny Burgess
  • 2010 Rick Walker
  • 2011 Megan Healey
  • 2012 Starre Haney
  • 2013 Andrew Appleby
  • 2014 Fox 9 Twin Cities
  • 2015 Lana Whitehead
  • 2016 Jill White
  • 2017 Priscilla Davis
  • 2018 Mary Jo Swalley
  • 2019 Dr. Danny Mistry

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award

Marvin A. Thorpe II was awarded the USA Swimming 2020 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award, recognizing a “person or group who has positively heightened the awareness of inclusion efforts through various modes and media resulting in the increase and successful participation of currently underrepresented groups in the sport.”

Thorpe runs the 4M Swim Club which has been in operation since 1972 and was started by Thorpe’s father Marvin Thorpe. Of Marvin, his nominator, Sandy Avery, said “Coach Marvin is an inspiration for all of us who are fighting what the World Health Organization labeled an ‘epidemic of drowning among the most vulnerable children — children of color, socioeconomically disadvantaged children, and differently-abled children — and he has been doing it for over 40 years.”

Past Recipients

  • 2007 Jim Ellis
  • 2008 Cullen Jones
  • 2009 Arthur Lopez
  • 2010 John Bare, Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation
  • 2011 El Franco Lee and Johnnie Means
  • 2012 Hosea Holder
  • 2013 Martiza Correia McClendon
  • 2014 Robert Trotman, Rodger McCoy
  • 2015 Sue Anderson
  • 2016 Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (organization); Tommy Jackson (individual)
  • 2017 Miriam Lynch
  • 2018 Rob Green
  • 2019 Chicago Park District

Kenneth J.Pettigrew Award For Officials

The USA Swimming Pettigrew Award is given annually to “honor Kenneth J. Pettigrew, who devoted over 30 years to the sport of swimming. Each year the recipient is chosen by the USA Swimming Officials Committee.”

The 2020 recipient of the award Jayne Spittler has been an active member of USA Swimming since the early 2000s, recently serving on the United States Aquatics Sports conference task force to help plan their 2022 conference as an athlete representation.

Spittler’s previous recognitions for her service include the Illinois Swimming Volunteer of the Year, the Maxwell Award winner for exceptional officials, and the USA Swimming Phillips 66 Service Award winner.

Past Recipients

  • 1977 Kenneth J. Pettigrew
  • 1978 Richard Close Paul Bay (posthumously)
  • 1979 Dr. Stanley Brown
  • 1980 Catherine D. Meyer
  • 1981 Binnie Close
  • 1982 Ethle Burchett
  • 1983 Keith & Sherrie Hanssen
  • 1984 Betty Philcox
  • 1985 Anne Supple
  • 1986 Ted Ardell
  • 1987 Bud & Irene Hackett
  • 1988 Ted Ardell
  • 1989 Russell White
  • 1990 Pat Graham
  • 1991 Virginia Bay
  • 1992 Martha McKee
  • 1993 Alice Kempthorne
  • 1994 Anneliese Eggert
  • 1995 Charly Mallery
  • 1996 Jeannine Dennis
  • 1997 Frances Klier Dave Davis (posthumously)
  • 1998 Robert Brown
  • 1999 Shirley Smith
  • 2000 B. Wells O’Brien
  • 2001 Ron Van Pool
  • 2002 Pat Lunsford
  • 2003 Carol Zaleski
  • 2004 Joel Black
  • 2005 Jamy Pfister
  • 2006 Mike Saltzstein
  • 2007 Dan McAllen
  • 2008 Bruce Stratton
  • 2009 John Wilson
  • 2010 Jim Sheehan
  • 2011 Bill Rose
  • 2012 Suzanne Heath
  • 2013 Ed Ruth
  • 2014 Julie Bare
  • 2015 Clark Hammond
  • 2016 Bob Griffiths
  • 2017 Dick and Lucy Duncan
  • 2018 Jay Thomas
  • 2019 Melissa Hellervik-Bing

The 2020 USA Swimming Convention will come to a close on Saturday, with the voting session of the House of Delegates beginning at 10 AM (ET).

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David Berkoff
1 month ago

Awesome man.

1 month ago

Class Act!

T Hill
1 month ago

Great coach & person ! Always willing to share & humble. Enjoy yourself and keep active & busy. I’ll join you for a run soon.