Eddie Reese, legendary swim coach, to retire before 2024 Olympics
University of Texas men’s swimming head coach Eddie Reese plans to retire after next season, his 46th in Austin, ending a career that’s included coaching at least 30 Olympians and serving as men’s head coach of three U.S. Olympic teams.
Reese, 82, will coach through next June’s Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, according to the University of Texas.
Reese previously announced a retirement after the 2021 NCAA season, then returned before the following season after the athletic director asked if he would reconsider.
“Working with swimmers has been one of the true joys of my life,” Reese said in a press release. “In my life, I’ve discovered that the most important thing for us to do in this world is help others, whether it be for something simple or complex. It has been an honor for me to be a part of this program.”
Reese coached at his alma mater of Florida (1967-72, as an assistant) and then Auburn (1972-78) before being hired by Texas in 1978.
A man who had been coached by Reese made every U.S. Olympic team from 1976 through Tokyo in 2021. At least one of them earned a gold medal at every Games from 1984 through 2016.
Reese’s biggest stars included individual Olympic gold medalists Rick Carey, Gary Hall Jr. and Aaron Peirsol.
Reese was head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s swimming team in 1992, 2004 and 2008. The only other person to be head coach of three U.S. Olympic men’s teams was Bob Kiphuth in 1932, 1936 and 1948.
An Olympic head coach is most known for setting, or helping set, relay lineups. So Reese was at the helm for the most famous relay in swimming history — the U.S. men’s 4x100m freestyle in 2008, where Jason Lezak rallied past Frenchman Alain Bernard on anchor to keep Michael Phelps’ eight-gold-medal bid alive.
“I just remember right before the race, Michael, Lezak, Garrett [Weber-Gale] and I standing in the back,” relay team member Cullen Jones said years ago. “The French team’s right in front of us. [Reese] just walks up and goes, ‘Don’t mess up,’ and walks off.”