Legendary Georgia High School Coach Pete Higgins Dies at Age 86

Georgia high school coach and NISCA Hall of Fame inductee Robert Nash “Pete” Higgins died yesterday at the age of 86.

After a distinguished swimming career at the University of North Carolina, cut short by polio at an early age, Pete began his coaching career at UNC in Chapel Hill as a grad assistant and high school coach. He was contacted by a friend about a job at a new private school in Atlanta and a career of 55-plus years was born.

Higgins coached at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta from 1960 to 2016 and led the Wildcats to 41 Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state championships. His teams won in excess of 800 meets during his coaching career, and he guided many of his swimmers to individual state titles. He has coached over 140 National High School All-America athletes, four Olympic team members, and one Pan-American Games Gold Medalist.

A six-time National High School Coaches Association State Coach of the Year and two-time National High School Federation National Coach of the Year, Higgins was inducted into the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association of America (NISCA) Hall of Fame in 2016. He was the first coach from Georgia to be inducted into the NISCA Hall of Fame.

In addition to his work at Westminster, Higgins officiated at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships for 27 years. He is the founding president of the Georgia High School Swimming Coaches Association and a former board member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Higgins has also held numerous offices in the Georgia AAU and US Swimming organizations.

He is survived by his wife Nell Furgason Higgins, daughter Blynn Higgins Masters, her husband, George William Masters; grandchildren Robert Carter Higgins, Kathleen Elizabeth Higgins. Steely Marie Masters, and Hadley Mayer Masters; and preceded in death by his son Robert Higgins Jr. Funeral services are unknown at this time.

Thanks to Franke Marsden for contributing to this report.

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Olde Coach

One of the true great ones. Always enjoyed catching up during annual NISCA mtgs. RIP my friend.

wildcat dad

The swimming world has lost a great swim coach. My son swam for Pete in high school winning the state championship all four years. Always his goal. After graduation I would stop by the Pete Higgins pool at Westminster just to wish him another great year. He would invite me into the DASH office to chat awhile. He always kept up with his swimmers through college and beyond. I was sitting in the stands in Columbus, OH for my sons final NCAA National Championship and someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and it was Pete who had driven from Atlanta in his white pickup truck to watch my sons last college meet. Pete told many stories some… Read more »

JP Swim

Pete was a consummate gentleman and a good friend of my father. Condolences to the family


Thanks Pete, you will be missed.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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