Lifetime Achievement Award

2021 Eddie Reese (USA)

 

In 2002, Eddie Reese was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Coach and was already considered one of the most successful swimming coaches of our time.

 

From a young age growing up in Daytona Beach, Florida, he was a natural in the water, winning two high school state championships at Mainland High School before moving on to Gainesville and the University of Florida. As a Florida Gator, he was an all-star swimmer, where he helped the Gators win three SEC Championship titles in 1961, 1962 and 1963. On a personal level, acting as captain in his senior year, he became the first Florida swimmer to win five SEC titles in a single year: 200 breaststroke, 200 and 400 IM, the 400 free relay and the 400-medley relay. Almost 60 years later, Reese’s seven SEC titles still rank in a tie for third on the school’s record board.

 

After coaching as a graduate assistant at Florida for a year, he tried his luck in New Mexico at Roswell High School. After a short one year stint, he returned to UF as an assistant in 1967 and stayed six years before becoming the Head Coach for another SEC school - Auburn University. From his hire in 1972, it only took Reese six years to turn the Tigers struggling program around.

 

In Reese’s first year, Auburn was coming off an abysmal season, having qualified zero swimmers for finals at the 1972 SEC Championships. By the end of Reese’s tenure in 1978, the Tigers produced four consecutive national top ten showings, with Auburn finishing a program high second place at the 1978 NCAA Championships.

 

After Auburn, Reese was hired in 1978 as the head coach of the University of Texas’ men’s swimming and diving team, where he remains to this day.

 

Reese’s first year at the helm, Texas came in a disappointing 21st nationally, but since then, Texas has never finished lower than seventh at NCAA’s.

 

Eddie’s first National Championship title was won in 1981. Texas became a national powerhouse just three years after his arrival. He won four straight national titles from 1988 - 1991, as well as three straight from 2000 - 2002. Along with a 1996 team title, his Longhorns had won nine national titles in Reese’s first 20 seasons as head coach.

 

His tenth title for UT was appropriately won in 2010 and in 2015, Eddie tied the great Ohio State coach Mike Peppe with 11 NCAA titles. Reese broke the tie with a 12th title in 2016. Since then, he won three more titles in 2017, 2018 and most recently last year in 2021, while going through the challenges of the COVID pandemic. Reese’s 15th national title gave him the distinction of winning national titles in five different decades.

 

Reese has coached so many Olympians through his program at Texas, you would be hard pressed to name them all.Those honored by the International Swimming Hall of Fame include: Brendan Hansen, Rick Carey, Aaron Peirsol, and Ian Crocker.

 

Eddie’s style and approach is what leads to his success. He has said, “I’ve always worried about the individual first. We don’t talk about winning the NCAA Championship. We talk about what it takes for each individual to get better. What satisfies me as a coach is seeing people go faster than they ever have before. With that focus, we are in a battle for the championship every year. I like that too.”

 

After initially announcing his retirement after this year’s NCAAs, Eddie decided against it during the summer, and is returning for his 43rd season at the University of Texas.

 

A look at the numbers:

 

3-time USA Men’s Olympic Team head swimming coach

 

15 National Championship team titles

 

12 NCAA runner-up finishes and 33-top-three finishes

 

40 Consecutive top ten finishes at the NCAA Championships

 

41 Consecutive conference titles

 

73 NCAA individual champions

 

50 NCAA champion relays (through 2020 season)

 

29 Olympian who have collected 39 gold medals, 16 silver and eight bronze medals,

 

3-time CSCAA National Coach of the Year (2015, 2016, 2017)

 

8-time NCAA Coach of the Year (1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2001)

 

4-time ASCA Coach of the Year (1991, 2005, 2006 and 2009)

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