WATCH: 15-Time NCAA Champion Coach Eddie Reese Gives Retirement Speech

Friends, family, and alumni gathered at the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas on Friday evening to celebrate the retirement of Eddie Reese, the most accomplished swim coach in NCAA D1 history, and one of the greatest swim coaches in the history of the world.

Reese is retiring after 46 years leading the Longhorns, a career that saw him lead the men’s team to 15 NCAA team titles, 45 consecutive conference titles, and 44 consecutive top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships. Reese was named the CSCAA’s national men’s D1 coach of the year on eight occasions.

Reese’s speech was loaded with his trademarked humor, highlighted by some poignant moments of wisdom.

“About 50 years ago, I read a book that in the part where the author gives a quote, and the quote was, when you die, you cannot take anything with you. And then down below that said, when you die, the only thing you take with you is that what you’ve given others. And I love that I latched onto that, and it’s the name of the game.”

The ceremony included an Eddie Reese Hershey’s bar for every attendee.

An Eddie Reese Hershey chocolate bar, Courtesy: Nick Nevid

Watch Reese’s full speech below, followed by a transcript. Other speeches, filmed by alumnus Ande Rasmussen, are below the transcript.

Eddie Reese Retirement Party Speech

Eddie Reese Transcript

I really appreciate that it a lot of you noticed Elinor her and brought her to the mind of the group because she’s so much of who I am and what I am and the way I am.

As I tell all swimmers, you marry two to four levels above what you deserve. I definitely did that.

When Elinor and I started together, our theme song was I want to have this dance for the rest of my life. Our theme song has changed. Our chief theme song now is let’s fall to pieces together. And so it goes.

It’s difficult for me to hear good things about me because I know the truth. I know the mistakes I made, the times I let people down. There’s some times when one word that doesn’t fit the situation is better to use than the correct word.

I don’t like making those mistakes. I’m paying for them because I do not sleep well.

I’m really glad that so many of you have nothing to do on this Friday night. And I’m really glad these lights are so bright I can’t see anybody. So I’m talking to a blank wall. The most important thing about tonight, because this lifestyle I’ve had, and it’s been a lifestyle, has not been the job. This lifestyle was made better by every one of you guys that helped me help make you better. Or trying to do that. Doesn’t work all the time. I wish it did.

I wish there was a formula out there and there’s not. But this is my opportunity to thank you so I don’t have to text each individual. I’m a one thumb texter and probably a word every 30 seconds and I can’t do numbers.

So I take this opportunity to thank you because the big picture that everybody painted up here is one of honestly and truly a family and a family…we all think of the family genetic. It’s not. It goes further than that.It’s the amount of care you give, not worrying about what you receive. And that’s probably the most important thing…beyond the genetic part. You care and you’d be willing to help, and we’re good at that.

At the University of Texas, it’s not the university that does this. It is the people. The people make the place. You made this a great place for me. I love it. And a number of the talks killed a lot of things I wanted to say, and I would really like to go through each one and correct them, all the stories.

But you liked it so much, I guess, well, I probably won’t sleep for a week, thinking…should have said that, Brendan. I gave him a week, not two days. I said 48 hours. I gave him a full week, probably a couple of hours. And I started. You read the. You read the paragraph. I started him looking in the right direction.

And I think the thing that had been brought out in me by male and female swimmers watching practices is my drive to find a way to get better. I still do that stuff, and I know eventually it’s gonna lay me out flat, but I go to a trainer two days a week. Obviously, you saw that (flexing his muscles). I wish they held that up for a while (referring to a previous picture). I need about five minute look at that.

And we do 27 sets of ten reps in an hour. So I come in one day and I say, I’d like to do five push ups in between each set.

And he’s great. He says, great idea. And so I started doing that. I don’t do real person push ups. I do old man push ups, but I still call them the same thing to fool some people. And I’m always looking…for ways to get better for myself and for the swimmers. And I think that’s either a genetic gift or a curse. I’m not sure which.

But earlier icn one of the talks, they talked about our purpose in life. And I know what our purpose is. We’re just here to help. Coaches, (athletic directors), doctors, teachers, trainers.

All those people have a built-in opportunity to help people, and that is all we’ve got.

And I’m a big fiction book reader, and about 50 years ago…I’m kidding about remembering that far back…I just thought I’d say that, see if you believed it.

But really, about 50 years ago, I read a book that in the part where the author gives a quote, and the quote was, when you die, you cannot take anything with you. And then down below that said, when you die, the only thing you take with you is that what you’ve given others*. And I love that I latched onto that, and it’s the name of the game.

*[This quote was made famous by the movie It’s a Wonderful Life]

This has been a night beyond my expectation. Thank Kris, Darlene, Elsa, for putting this together. And if everybody leave their Hershey bars on the table (everyone received Eddie Reese branded Hershey bars), I’m gonna get all of those. Cause I put them in the freezer and make them last. That was a nice surprise.

But I look back, I know they weren’t all good times, but I’m lucky. That’s all I remember, is the good times. And there have been a lot of them. I know I am hoping to have a memory loss syndrome soon. So I can get rid of some of the others.

That’s not true.

Thank you so much for the time you spent with me and for coming tonight. Thank you.

Reese’s Long-Time Assistant Kris Kubik Speech

Texas AD Chris Del Conte Finale

Brendan Hansen Speech

Scott Spann Speech

Reese Bowman Speech

Eddie’s grandson and former Texas swimmer

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Ranger Coach
1 month ago

How many swimmers did that man coach during his career?

Eddie Reese had a career that I doubt any other coach, in any other sport, has ever had or ever will have. He built that program into what it is today. He is not just a legend in the swimming community, but a legend in the coaching community.

I wish him the best in his retirement.

Cold Water
1 month ago

I loved when the AD called Bob “Big Boy”

Konner Scott
1 month ago

Hershey’s? They missed a golden opportunity to give out Eddie Reese’s

Big Kicker
1 month ago

Great job Brendan! Love the mile story. You should’ve gotten the Texas job.

Joel Lin
1 month ago

Greatest living NCAA coach in any sport at any D1 through D3 level.

And an even better person. We will miss you, Eddie.

Richard Sybesma
1 month ago

Coach Reese’s retirement event was one of the classiest events I have attended. What a great gathering of Longhorn alumni, friends, colleagues, and Longhorn swimmers. Chris Del Conte did an awesome job honoring Eddie and Elinor. Every speaker spoke from the heart and love for Eddie. Well deserved for all he has done for the sport of Swimming and the University of Texas. Honored to call him a colleague and friend. The final “Eyes of Texas” school song with over 700 Longhorns in attendance was overwhelming. Congrats Coach Reese and a career well done.

Old Swim Coach
Reply to  Richard Sybesma
1 month ago

Couldn’t agree more! His celebration was extraordinary, like him. Felt like lucky to be in attendance. Congrats to Eddie and Elinor on an incredible run.

1 month ago

Eddie’s grandson is named… Reese Bowman…?

Ranger Coach
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

I have one of the most common last names in the country. My grandpa shares his name with an astronaut (and his distant cousin) that has a road named after him in Orlando. My dad shares a name with one of his former coworkers (including middle initial) and both that man’s son and I have the exact same name. I feel your pain trying to do the research on Reese Bowman.

1 month ago

the Classiest of All, thank you Coach Reese

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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