Six-time U.S. Olympic Swimming Team coach Jon Urbanchek was named this year’s recipient of the USA Swimming Award during the USA Swimming Virtual Convention on Friday, September 25.
Established to recognize exceptional contributions to the sport of swimming, Urbanchek has more than exemplified the qualities of this award throughout his storied career, which came to a close on August 31 when he retired from both coaching and his role as the USA Swimming National Team Technical Advisor.
As National Team Managing Director Lindsay Mintenko said: “Coach Urbanchek is a legend of our sport, admired by athletes and coaches alike. We have all learned at least a little something from him, and his retirement will be felt for a long time to come.”
The roster of swimmers and coaches impacted by Urbanchek’s tutelage reads like a who’s who of American swimming. He was the primary coach of Olympic greats Mike Barrowman, Tom Dolan, Tom Malchow, Eric Namesnik, Eric Wunderlich, Gustavo Borges and Brent Lang and has also worked closely with many other legends, including Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky.
Urbanchek’s legacy includes serving as a member of the U.S. Olympic Team swimming coaching staffs from 1992-2012. He has coached 44 swimmers who qualified for the Olympic Games, winning more than 20 medals. In 2017, he was the inaugural recipient of the IOC Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award and is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
From 1983-2004, Urbanchek coached the University of Michigan men’s squad to 13 Big Ten Conference Titles, including 10 straight from 1986-95. During his own collegiate swimming career, Urbanchek earned All-American honors at Michigan from 1958-62.
Among additional honors awarded Friday was the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award to Marvin Thorpe II.
Established in 2006, this honor is awarded by USA Swimming’s National Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee to a person, group or organization that has positively heightened inclusion efforts and increased the participation of underrepresented groups in swimming. Since 2004, Thorpe has taught thousands of predominantly Black or differently-abled children in the Baltimore area to swim in his backyard pool. It’s the same pool in which his father, Marvin Sr., taught him and started a family tradition of teaching nearly 500 children per summer this lifesaving skill since 1972.
In previous years, the awards at the United States Aquatic Sports (USAS) Convention have not only honored the top performers in the water, but the coaches, administrators and volunteers who’ve made significant contributions to the sport of swimming. Following the disruption to the swimming season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, several of the traditionally awarded athlete and coach awards were not presented this year.
The full list of 2020 award winners is included below:
Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award:
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award:
Marvin A. Thorpe II
Kenneth J. Pettigrew Award:
Women in Swimming Award (Two recipients):
Catherine Kase and Nadine Day
USA Swimming Award:
In the final year of the current LEAP Program, the following LSCs have renewed or achieved LEAP 3 status:
- Indiana: $5,000
- Maine: $2,500
- Metropolitan: $5,000
- North Carolina: $5,000
- San Diego Imperial: $4,246