Renowned Canadian Swimming Coach Murray Drudge Dies at 61

Coach Murray Drudge died unexpectedly on February 17th in Toronto at the age of 61.

During his over 30 years in coaching Drudge held head coaching positions in Regina, Ottawa and North York. He has also spent the last 2 years working with the elite group at the High Performance Center – Ontario.At each stop he made an significant impact not only on the swimming community, but on the community as a whole.

In his first head coaching position with the Regina Optimist Dolphins he led the team of just over 100 swimmers in a city of 150,000 to the status of top age group team in Canada. During his time with the North York Aquatic Club (NYAC) he coached several athletes onto junior, youth and senior national teams. He helped guide both Stephanie Richardson (1996) and Kyle Smerdon (2000) to Olympic team berths.

He was also the age group coach of Michelle Toro (Williams) who earned an Olympic bronze in the women’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Most recently Drudge coached Joshua Liendo who last summer at the age of 17 qualified for the Canadian World Championships team. Liendo also won a silver at the World Junior Championships in the 100 freestyle as well as bronze in both the mixed 4 x 100 medley relay and men’s 4 x 100 medley relay.

Several Canadian athletes and coaches posted on social media their memories of Drudge after the news of his death circulated.

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R.I.P. Murray. You will be missed.


I believe Julia Wilkinson too

Yep, that’s correct.

English retriever

I don’t think many people outside of coaching realize what kind of mental and physical stress these coaches go through. There isn’t enough support for these incredible people. A lot of them suffer in silence. Something needs to be done to support them.


I agree. Boards of Swim Clubs should take your advice.

English retriever

I was talking to my daughter’s coach and one of the things he noticed immediately after Murray passed away and another coach was having open heart surgery is that the coaches on deck were starting to work out and look after themselves better. It is a wake up call for all of us to take care of our bodies and minds whether you are an athlete or not.
Perhaps something will improve.


You are correct. The vast majority of swim coaches are out of shape. I would think it reflects badly on those coaches and what does that show the young swimmers they are coaching? Head Coaches especially have the time in the middle of the day to work out, Just Do It.

English retriever

Most of them are really overweight. I think their schedule of alpine starts and evening practices probably results in poor eating choices. Carbs to stay awake. I also think stress leads to bad food choices. Also I asked my coach if they get fed during a meet and he said they get muffins. Nothing healthy about muffins. Just bad food.


I did not know him personally. But I know several people in the swimming community over many years and I have not heard ONE negative comment about him. I do not know the circumstances of his leaving NYAC, it was stated he was “taking a step back from coaching”. I find that interesting in that he was right after leaving the club he was volunteering with one of his swimmers at HPC Ontario. Clubs make changes all the time . The take away is that we can all learn from good people and do better in a variety of ways, such as being Kind to others, Happy and always seeing the positive side of life & giving to others. That… Read more »

English retriever

I believe he was working with Joshua Liendo who was his coach while at nyac. I suspect he moved to hpc in order to support Liendo on his journey towards Tokyo 2020.


This guy was absolutely not an angel. You can count this as a negative comment about Murray Drudge. I’m not glad he’s dead but I am not at all bothered by it.

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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