By USA Swimming | Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Three very influential, lifelong USA Swimming members and volunteers passed away within the last two weeks.
Anneliese Eggert, 91, passed away Oct. 26; Wells O’Brien, 89, passed away Nov. 6, and George Breen, 84, passed away Nov. 9.
Each had been honored with the USA Swimming award over the course of their service to the organization – Breen in 1997, Eggert in 2007 and O’Brien in 2012.
The following is a small memorial of each:
Eggert became an official along with her husband, Walt, to keep themselves busy at their kids’ swim meets. Anneliese started off as a timer, then moved to head timer. She moved to stroke and turn judge, then head stroke and turn judge. She then advanced to become a meet referee, then to head referee. She also spent years developing and improving the software used to organize and manage swim meets, and over the years helped shape the direction of USA Swimming.
She was an official from 1965 to 2019. In that time, she authored numerous articles on officiating, conducted hundreds of officials training seminars, traveled internationally to officiate meets or as the USA official’s representative at conventions, was a Rules Committee member, and served as National Officials Chair from 1990-2000.
She was also honored with a number of awards over her career as an official:
- 1986 Pacific Swimming Volunteer of the Year
- 1988 she was bestowed with a Life Member of USA Swimming
- 1994 Pettigrew Award for Officials
- 1996 Athlete’s Appreciation Award
- 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta
- 1998 U.S. Masters Swimming Dorothy Donnelly Service Award
- 2000 U.S. Masters Swimming National Championship Meets Award
- 2003 Outstanding Disability Service Award
- 2007 USA Swimming Award - Established in 1982, the USA Swimming Award is the highest honor in the sport of swimming, given to the individual with the most outstanding contribution to the sport of swimming
“For a true insight into the type of person my mom and dad were, I’d like to point out a couple of things,” said son Wayne Eggert in his eulogy for his mother. “One was the admiration the coaches and athletes showed them anytime they attended a swim meet. My mother was always truly appreciated, respected and loved.
“Swimming became my parents’ social life. Some of the best friends they made in life were those they met and spent so much time with through swimming.”
O’Brien’s involvement in USA Swimming started when his kids were young. Serving 27 years, he participated as an Official, Secretary/General Counsel and on the Board of Directors. As General Counsel, he undertook the complete writing of the Code of Conduct for USA Swimming, still in use today.
He officiated over 50 national meets and five international meets in Australia, Russia, Brazil and as a meet official for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He was also the Meet Referee for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Long Beach, Calif.
In 2012 he was presented with the highest award by USA Swimming to non-swimmers – The USA Swimming Award. He and his family were “extremely proud” of this honor.
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. He won the USA Swimming Award in 1997.