Jon Urbanchek, Who Led Swimmers to Olympic Glory, Dies at 87

Jon Urbanchek, a Hungarian immigrant who became a revered swimming coach in the United States and guided 44 swimmers to the Olympics, where they won 21 medals, 11 of them gold, died on May 9 in hospice care at his home in Fullerton, Calif. He was 87.

Jack Roach, a close friend and fellow coach, said the cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease.

Urbanchek mainly made his name at the University of Michigan pool, where he coached the men’s swim team from 1982 to 2004 and led it to 13 Big Ten Conference titles, including 10 in a row at one point, and the 1995 N.C.A.A. championship.

In all, his Michigan swimmers earned 315 All-America honors.

“Michigan was like a freight train,” Urbanchek told The Orange County Register in California in 2012. “By the mid-’80s, we built a freight train people jump on, they get off and new kids jump on. The machine was going constantly.”

He served on the coaching staffs of six United States Olympic teams, from 1988 to 2012, and was a technical adviser to U.S.A. Swimming, the national governing body, from 2018 to 2020.

“The part that made him special is that he found a way to get the best out of you while still encouraging you to enjoy the process,” Lindsay Mintenko, managing director of the national team at U.S.A. Swimming, said in a phone interview.

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