World Record Holder At 17, World Champion at 18

FORT LAUDERDALE – The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) sadly reports that Andy

Coan has passed away after a long illness in a Hospice facility in Boca Raton. He was 60 years old. In 1975, at 17 years of age, while representing the Pine Crest High School and swimming for ISHOF Honor Coach Jack Nelson, he broke Jim Montgomery’s 12-day old world-record in the 100 meter freestyle.

Later that year, Coan won three gold medals representing the USA at the 1975 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Cali, Colombia, as a member of the 4 x 100m freestyle, the 4 x 100m medley relays and an individual gold in the 100m freestyle. He continued his winning run at the 1975 United States National Swimming Championships, where he won the 100m free.

After graduation from Pine Crest in 1976, Coan attended the University of Tennessee on a swimming scholarship. At UT he won seven NCAA Championships, including the 50 and the 100 freestyle twice.

Andy missed two opportunities to compete in the Olympic Games. He came up short in 1976 and then shortly after the 1979 championships, Mr. Coan suffered broken wrists in an automobile accident. Despite wrist bones held together by two metal plates and nearly a dozen screws, he lost the 100 and 200 free to Gaines in 1980 but pulled off a surprising win over Gaines in the 50. When the Carter Olympic boycott was announced he chose not to participate in the post Olympic Trials.

Until health issues prevented him from doing so, Andy could be found on the pool deck helping Sid Cassidy and Jay Fitzgerald coach their teams at the Saint Andrews School and at his alma mater, Pine Crest.

He was diagnosed with Guilain Barre disease several years ago and had gone from total paralysis to a point where he was able to travel to Santa Clara, California for a reunion of the USA’s 1975 World Championship team, organized by the ISHOF.  But then came a battle against liver cancer that ultimately took his life.

“Andy was a great friend of swimming and the Pine Crest School,” said the schools coach, Jay Fitzgerald.  “He was always generous with his time and always positive – even through all his health issues. He will be missed.”

Coan still holds the Pine Crest School records for the 50y and 100y freestyle at 20.19 and 43.99 respectively, dating to 1975.  Amazingly, times that would have won the 2016 state titles, with-out a tech suit or underwater starts and turns.

Andy leaves behind his 13 year-old son Richard and his girlfriend, Karen Britton, who faithfully stood by him through all of his health problems.

A memorial service is being planned to take place at the ISHOF, in Fort Lauderdale in late April.  


The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people involved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, educate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email

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