Hall of Fame swimming coach Dick Jochums dies at 81

Dick Jochumsa longtime swimming coach whose athletes attended major U.S. international teams for nearly four decades, died Friday at age 81.

Jochums placed a swimmer on every U.S. team going to a major international event from 1968 to 2006, with the sole exception of the 1996 Olympics. His swimmers broke 25 world records and won 12 Olympic medals, including two golds . Jochums has served as an assistant or head coach on eight U.S. national teams.

Jochums began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of Washington, where he had competed as a collegiate swimmer under John Tallman. He also worked as an assistant at Cal under the direction of Pete Cutino before taking his first head coaching job at Cal State Hayward. After a stint at Long Beach State, he returned to the Pac-12 (then Pac-10) in 1978 to lead the Arizona program. In 20 years at the college level, his teams have totaled 12 top 10 finishes nationally.

He moved up to the club level in 1995 and won three national titles with the Santa Clara Swim Club men’s team (1996-98) while placing in the top 5. In 2007, he retired from full-time coaching with an impressive resume. The Jochum swimmers combined to set seven NCAA records and 60 American records overall.

An early proponent of high quality interval training, Jochums developed a reputation as a middle distance guru. Tim Shaw, recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award in 1975 for the country’s top amateur athlete, once held world records simultaneously in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyles. Jochums coached the club’s last team to set a world record in 1975 when his Long Beach Swim Club quartet Rex Favero, Bruce FurnisShaw, and Steve Furnis lowered the world standard in the 4×200 freestyle relay.

At the 1975 World Championships, Jochums swimmers reached the podium five times. Shaw has accumulated three gold medals, Greg Jagenburg won two and Steve Furniss added one. But Jochums’ impact was perhaps most felt the following year at the 1976 Olympics, where he placed seven swimmers on the U.S. men’s team. Five of them – Shaw, Bruce Furniss, Dan Harrigan, Steven Greggand Jack Babshoff — won medals in Montreal.

During the following Olympic cycle, he formed a pair of medal contenders in Bob Jackson and Jagenburg, but the United States ultimately boycotted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. Jochums also mentored the 1984 Olympic medalists Georges DiCarlo and Peter Evans as well as 2000 Olympic medalist Tom Wilkens.

Jochums has received several accolades recognizing his contributions to the sport. In 1974, he was named Coach of the Year by the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA). Thirty years later, he was inducted into the ASCA Hall of Fame. Jochums was also chosen for the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2017. In 2019, he was selected into the Aquatic Capital of America Hall of Fame located in Long Beach with the Furniss Brothers.