By USA Swimming | Monday, November 11, 2019
Four-time Olympic medalist George Breen passed away Sunday after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 84.
Breen began swimming at the age of 17 at Cortland State University, under the legendary coach Doc Counsilman. He was a 22-time national champion and the first of a long list of Counsilman’s swimmers to win an Olympic medal.
Breen represented the U.S. at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. There, he won silver as a member of the men’s 800m free relay, and took bronze in the 400m and 1500m freestyle. His bronze in the 1500 came after setting the world record of 17:52.9 in prelims.
At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Breen was elected team captain by his teammates won another bronze in the 1500m free.
After his Olympic career, Breen went on to coach at the University of Pennsylvania from 1966 to 1982. He also coached at the Gloucester Institute of Technology in Deptford, N.J., and was coach at the Jersey Wahoos Swim Club in Mount Laurel, N.J.
Breen served on USA Swimming’s Board of Directors as Coach Vice-President and as chair of the International Operations Committee. He was also active in LSC governance as a member Middle Atlantic Swimming’s board of directors.