Eddie Reese, the only college swimming coach to win NCAA team titles in four separate decades, has established a tradition of excellence in Austin and set the standard in collegiate swimming. The 2005, 2006 and 2009 ASCA Coach of the Year, an eight-time NCAA Coach of the Year and three-time United States Men's Olympic Team head coach, Reese has led Texas to 10 NCAA team titles in his 34 seasons in Austin.
After placing 21st at the NCAA Championships in his first season (1979) at Texas, Reese's teams have never finished lower than seventh at the national meet. His Texas team will enter the 2012-13 season with two incredible streaks to its credit: 33 consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championship and 33 consecutive conference titles. Along the way, Reese has developed 49 NCAA individual champions, 39 national champion relays, 215 All-Americans and 29 Olympians who have won 39 gold medals, 16 silver medals and eight bronze medals.
During the 1980s, the Longhorns claimed three NCAA team titles (1981, 1988, 1989) and all 10 Southwest Conference crowns. In 1981, just three years after taking over the Texas program, Reese captured his first national team championship. From 1981 to 1986, Texas turned in two NCAA runner-up performances (1982, 1984) and placed third in the national meet three times (1983, 1985, 1986).
After Reese's initial fifth-place showing at the NCAAs with Texas in 1987, the Longhorns closed the decade strong, reeling off back-to-back titles in 1988 and 1989. His squads in the 1990s continued on that torrid pace, winning NCAA team titles in 1990, 1991 and 1996. The Longhorns finished second at Nationals in 1992 and 1994, placed third in 1993 and 1999 and took fourth in 1995. Texas also won each of the last seven SWC crowns (1990-96).
Reese began the new millennium in the same fashion, winning three consecutive NCAA Championships (2000, 2001 and 2002). Texas placed second at Nationals in 2003, finished third in 2004, seventh in 2005, fourth in 2006 and fifth in 2007. Two more NCAA runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2009 preceded Reese's 10th NCAA team title in 2010.
Under Reese, Texas has placed second 10 times at the NCAA Championships, and Reese's teams have finished in the top three at the NCAA Championships in 27 of his 34 seasons at Texas. The Longhorns have maintained their dominance at the conference level, winning all 16 Big 12 crowns and 33 consecutive conference titles.
The list of individuals that Reese has developed while at Texas reads like a "Who's Who" in collegiate and international swimming. The trio of Ian Crocker, Brendan Hansen and 2005 USA Swimming Athlete of the Year Aaron Peirsol have left their marks throughout the Texas and NCAA record books.
The 2004 NCAA Swimmer of the Year, Crocker (2001-04) concluded his collegiate career as a 10-time NCAA Champion and 22-time All-American. He joined legends Pablo Morales (Stanford) and Mark Spitz (Indiana) as the only swimmers to win four straight NCAA titles in the 100 butterfly. Hansen (2001-04), a 13-time NCAA Champion and 16-time All-American, became the first person in NCAA history to win both the 100 and 200 breaststroke in each of his four years.
Hansen, who never lost a breaststroke race at the conference or national meet, was only the third person in NCAA history to win two different events in every year of his eligibility. Peirsol, the 2003 NCAA Swimmer of the Year, won the 200 backstroke at the national championships in each of his two seasons before turning professional at the end of the 2004 campaign. In just two collegiate seasons, the Californian collected six NCAA championships and 11 All-America certificates.
Nate Dusing (1998-2001), a 27-time All-American, was another recent success story on the national scene. In 2001, Dusing won the 200 IM (1:42.85), breaking the American and NCAA record set by Florida's Greg Burgess in 1993, while also claiming the 200 backstroke title. He also swam on four NCAA Championship relay squads, setting American and NCAA records in each relay to push his career collegiate titles to two individual and nine relay crowns. Dusing was named 2001 NCAA Swimmer of the Year.
Josh Davis (1990-94) left Texas as a 23-time NCAA All-American and four-time NCAA champion. He earned NCAA titles as a member of the championship 400 and 800 free relays helping the Longhorns capture the 1990 NCAA team title. After winning the 200 free in 1993 for his first individual title, Davis finished his career in style, swimming the second leg of the American, U.S. Open and NCAA record-setting 400 free relay in 1994.
Shaun Jordan (1988-91) won four NCAA team titles in four years as a Longhorn. In 1991, Jordan won NCAA individual titles in the 50 and 100 free and also swam on three winning relay squads (200 and 400 free and the 200 medley). In 1989, he won four titles, capturing the 100 free while also swimming three victorious relay units (200, 400 and 800 free). In 1990, Jordan swam on four NCAA champion relay squads (200, 400 and 800 free as well as the 400 medley) and turned in runner-up finishes in the 50 and 100 free as well as the 100 fly.
Kirk Stackle (1987-90) won an individual title at the NCAAs for three straight years. In 1988, he won the 200 breaststroke and was the runner-up in the 100 breaststroke. In 1989, he finished just the opposite with a win in the 100 breaststroke and a second-place finish in the 200 breaststroke. In 1990, Stackle won his second consecutive title in the 100 breaststroke, while also swimming a leg on the winning 400 medley relay.
Clay Britt (1980-83), a backstroke specialist, was also a member of the national champion 400-medley relay squad in each of his three years under Reese. Britt won his first 100 backstroke title in 1980 and went on to dominate that event and claim the next two NCAA titles in 1981 and 1982.
One of Reese's prize UT pupils, Rick Carey (1981-84) continued the tradition of national champion backstrokers started by Britt. Carey claimed three straight NCAA titles in the 200 backstroke and a pair of NCAA individual crowns in the 100 backstroke. He was the fourth Longhorn inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and is a member of the Longhorn Hall of Honor.
Reese's Honor Roll at Texas
Reese was the American Swim Coaches' Association (ASCA) Coach of the Year in 2009, 2006, 2005 and 1991. In 1991, he earned the National Collegiate Scholar and Swimming Trophy from the College Swimming Coaches Association (CSCA). The trophy, which is the highest honor bestowed by the CSCA, recognizes a coach's overall contribution to the sport over an extended period of time and is reserved for an individual who has represented both collegiate athletics and swimming with honor and pride throughout his career. In November 1996, Reese was inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor, which recognizes former athletes, coaches and staff members "who have brought honor and renown to The University of Texas." Reese was voted directly into the Hall of Honor as a special exception to the rule, which stipulates that a coach or staff member must be retired five years before consideration.
He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco on Feb. 12, 2002. Just the third member of the Hall of Fame to be voted in based on swimming credentials, Reese joined an impressive list of UT alumni who have been honored, including Darrell K Royal, Roger Clemens, Earl Campbell, Tom Kite, Mack Brownand Cliff Gustafson.
The Reese honor roll culminated in May 2002, when he was elected as an honor coach and inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Reese was inducted along with eight other honorees in the Class of 2002.
Prior to Texas
Reese came to Texas after a remarkable six-year rebuilding job at Auburn University. When he took the job at Auburn in 1972, he inherited a team that had not qualified a single swimmer for the finals or consolation finals of the Southeastern Conference Championships during the previous season. Six years later, the Tigers had produced four consecutive Top 10 showings at the NCAAs, culminating in a second-place finish in 1978.
After posting a 4-3 dual-meet record and qualifying for the SEC Championships in his first season, Reese led the Tigers to a 3-3 dual-meet mark and a third-place performance at SECs, earning Auburn its first trip to NCAA Championships in 1974. Over the next three years, the Tigers earned three Top 10 team finishes at the NCAAs, placed third in the SEC three times and boasted a combined record of 15-4. However, Reese's finest season at Auburn was yet to come. In 1978, the Tigers posted a dual-meet record of 8-1, placed second in the SEC and turned in a runner-up team finish at the NCAA Championships, the highest in program history.
As a swimmer in his native Florida, Reese won two state championships in the 200 individual medley for Daytona Beach Mainland High School. He then became a standout swimmer at the University of Florida, where he led the Gators to three SEC titles (1961, '62, and '63). As the team's co-captain in his senior season (1963), Reese became the first Florida swimmer to win five SEC titles in a single year. He claimed first place in the 200 breaststroke, the 200 and 400 individual medleys, the 400 free relay and the 400 medley relay. In fact, his seven career SEC individual titles still ranks in a tie for third on the school's career chart.
After earning his bachelor's degree in physical education from Florida in 1963, Reese remained with the Gators as a graduate assistant coach earning his master's degree in 1965. Reese then coached and taught at Roswell (N.M.) High School for two years (1965-66) before returning to Florida as an assistant coach. He worked with the Gators as an assistant for six seasons (1967-72), when he accepted the head coaching position at Auburn.
Reese at the Olympics
Three swimmers from UT traveled to London in 2012 with Reese, who served as an assistant coach for the U.S. men. Making the Olympics team in 2012 were Ricky Berens (200 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay and 800 freestyle relay), Jimmy Feigen (400 freestyle relay) and Brendan Hansen (100 breaststroke). Also, Christian Schurr qualified in the 200 breaststroke for Mexico. Individually, Hansen won the bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke and added gold in the 400m medley relay. Berens won gold in the 800m freestyle relay at a second consecutive Olympic Games, and Feigen joined Berens to win silver in the 400m freestyle relay.
Due to his wealth of international experience and the respect the swimming community has for him Reese was named head men's swimming coach for the 2008 U.S. Olympic men's swimming team in September of 2006, marking his third selection as the head coach. He served in the same capacity during the 1992 Barcelona Games and the 2004 Athens Games. In addition to his head coaching duties, Reese worked as an assistant coach for the U.S. infour other Olympiads: 1988 (Seoul), 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney) and 2012 (London).
Seven of Reese's current and former swimmers - including first-time Olympians Ricky Berens, Scott Spann, Dave Walters and Garrett Weber-Gale - joined Reese in Beijing in 2008 and accounted for about one-third of the 22-member USA team while capturing eight gold medals and one silver medal. Weber-Gale joined Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak to win his first gold medal and set a new world record in a thrilling 400m freestyle relay in Beijing, and Berens teamed up with Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay to win Olympic gold and become the first 800m freestyle relay quartet to eclipse the seven-minute barrier in the event. Walters joined Berens in the 800m freestyle relay preliminary and also earned his first Olympic gold medal.
Weber-Gale added his second relay gold when he anchored Team USA's 400m medley relay in the preliminary round, where he was joined by Ian Crocker, who swam the butterfly leg in the preliminary round to earn a gold medal. Aaron Peirsol and Brendan Hansen swam the event's backstroke and breaststroke legs in the finals, where Team USA won gold and set a new world record.
Peirsol, a three-time Olympian, collected his third career individual Olympic gold medal by setting a new world mark in the 100m backstroke, and he added a silver medal in the 200m backstroke. Hansen reached the 100m breaststroke finals, where he placed fourth, and Crocker took fourth in the 100m butterfly finals.
At the 2004 Athens Games, senior Nathan O'Brien qualified for Team Canada while a total of seven former Longhorns (Crocker, Nate Dusing, Scott Goldblatt, Gary Hall Jr., Hansen, Peirsol and Neil Walker) - equivalent to one-third of the entire men's squad - earned a spot on the United States' Olympic Team. Leading the Texas swimmers at the 2004 Athens Games was Peirsol, who duplicated American teammate Lenny Krayzelburg's sweep of the backstroke in Sydney, Australia, and became only the fifth swimmer in Olympic history and second Texas swimmer to win both backstroke events (Rick Carey, 1984); Crocker, who won gold in the 400 medley relay, silver in the 100 butterfly and bronze in the 400 freestyle relay, and Hansen, who captured gold in the 400 medley relay, silver in the 100 breaststroke and bronze in the 200 breaststroke.
Gary Hall, Jr., who was competing in his third-straight Olympiad, won the 50-meter freestyle for the second year in succession. Hall, Jr., Dusing and Walker each earned bronze medals swimming the 400 freestyle relay, while Walker also captured his second-straight gold medal in the 400 medley relay. Meanwhile, Goldblatt captured his first career gold medal as a member of the 800 freestyle relay team. All said, Texas swimmers had medaled in six individual events and swam at least one leg on all three medal-winning relay squads.
At the 2000 Olympics, Crocker and Peirsol joined with seven former Longhorns (Josh Davis, Dusing, Scott Goldblatt, Gary Hall Jr., Tommy Hannan, Jamie Rauch and Neil Walker - on the United States team. Overall, Longhorn swimmers accounted for one-third of the entire U.S. men's team in Sydney. UT made up three-fourths of the 400-meter medley relay team that captured a gold medal with Walker, Hannan and Crocker. The 800-meter freestyle relay team, which was made up entirely of former Longhorns, won the silver medal with Davis, Dusing, Goldblatt and Rauch. Walker and Davis won silver medals with the 400-meter freestyle relay team, while Peirsol earned a silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke before even stepping foot on the UT campus.
As head coach of the 1992 U.S. team in Barcelona, Reese's swimmers captured 13 medals, including six gold. Former Longhorns Hans Dersch earned a gold in the 400-meter medley relay (prelims). Doug Gjertsen captured gold in the 400-meter free relay (prelims) and a bronze as a member of the American 800-meter free relay, and Shaun Jordan won gold swimming a prelim leg on USA's 400-meter relay team.
Alltotaled, Reese has coached a total of 26 Olympians who have gone on to win a combined 29 gold medals. His list of individual event gold medalists include: Brad Bridgewater, Rick Carey, Josh Davis, Hans Dersch, Gary Hall Jr., Chris Jacobs, Shaun Jordan and Aaron Peirsol.
Rick Carey- won three gold medals, in the 100 and 200 backstroke, as well as the 400 medley relay - at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Josh Davis matched this feat at the 1996 Atlanta Games capturing gold in the 400 medley relay, the 400 free relay and 800 free relay.
The Reese Philosophy
Reese's ability to train his athletes technically has been a big part of his success, but his unique approach to swimming and training may be his best attribute. That combination is what makes Reese one of the world's finest coaches, regardless of sport. He possesses a thorough knowledge of swimming fundamentals, an eye for talent, a genuine care for his athletes and the ability to communicate and motivate.
Reese's style is the staple of the Longhorns program. Always calm, unflappable, amiable and quick with a joke, he is a man who likes to work hard but doesn't see why hard work must be dull. The Texas team reflects the coach's personality. It is a loose bunch, but the team knows when to buckle down. In fact, Reese contends that his championship teams have excelled because they outwork everybody else. At Texas, team success derives from individual accomplishments. For Reese, the individual swimmers have priority.
"I've always worried about the individual first," Reese said. "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."
UT assistant coach Kris Kubik, an All-American swimmer at North Carolina State and graduate assistant under Reese at Auburn in the mid-1970s, sees Reese as a teacher in the best sense of the word.
"Eddie is constantly teaching," Kubik said. "He does a lot of talking about life, as much as he talks about swimming. He talks about how to apply what you learn in swimming to life. It's very important to him that his swimmers enjoy what they are doing. Eddie has designed a program that is totally unpredictable. I don't think there is a harder working team in the country, but we spread our workout over the entire week and it's never the same on any given day, so we have the ability to be stay loose."
The idea of finding enjoyment in the pursuit of one's maximum potential is the heart of Reese's coaching philosophy.
"A lot of people look for the easy way to do anything," Reese said. "In swimming, there is no easy way. To succeed in any sport there are two keys - after the obvious needs of a certain amount of ability and hard work - and these keys are self-image and enjoyment. It's something you have to work on every day, day-in and day-out. Everybody knows how to work people hard. The key is to work them hard and protect the mind."
The Personal Side
Reese and his wife, Elinor, have two daughters, Holly and Heather. Holly and her husband, David Bowman, have two sons: Reese and Luke. Heather and her husband, Travis Ormond, have one daughter, Evan, and one son, Beck. An avid fisher and hunter, Reese also has a soft spot for the family dog, Belle.