Former United States Olympic and Michigan swim coach Jon Urbanchek dies at 87

FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — Jon Urbanchek, an International Swimming Hall of Famer who was an assistant for several United States Olympic teams and led Michigan to a national championship, has died. He was 87.

Urbanchek died Thursday surrounded by family. No cause of death was given.

Urbanchek was born in Hungary. After Soviet troops attacked during the 1956 revolution, he immigrated to the U.S. and enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he helped the swimming program win national titles in 1959 and 1961.

Urbanchek was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2008.

Urbanchek led the Wolverines from 1982-2004, winning an NCAA title in 1995 when they won a 10th straight Big Ten championship to boost his total to 13 conference titles, after coaching at Long Beach State.

His success at the college level led to international opportunities. Urbanchek was an assistant coach at five straight Olympics from 1988 to 2004, and a special assistant at the 2008 and 2012 Games. He led the Americans at the 1994 and 1998 world championships.

“There is nobody like Jon Urbanchek," former Olympic and Michigan swimming champion Peter Vanderkaay said. “Jon was a larger-than-life coach who profoundly impacted swimming at a global level. With his magnetically positive demeanor, Jon not only guided his athletes to record-breaking performances in the pool but also inspired them to excel in life.”

With Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Club Wolverine from 2004 to 2009, he helped train Olympians such as Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt.

“Jon Urbanchek changed the way we think about training swimmers in many ways," said former Michigan coach Bob Bowman, who leads Texas' swimming program and is Phelps' longtime coach. "He made it more objective, scientific and measurable.

"However, Jon’s greatest contribution was in developing better humans. He embodied patience, humility and love for everyone he met. He has had an immeasurable influence on my life and on countless others.”


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