Eddie Reese’s impact makes waves farther than the pool


Joshua Guerra

Swimming, Texas, Longhorns, Swimming Availability, Media, Coach, Water, Wet,

Brittany Archer

Eddie Reese is the only men’s swimming and diving coach to win an NCAA team title in five separate decades, but after 43 seasons at Texas, Reese said winning wasn’t his driving motivation.

“The thing I got most out of coaching swimming has nothing to do with winning or trophies,” Reese said. “It all has to do with our personal relationships. … Coaches are in a great position that I love because I’m a firm believer that if the purpose of our life is to help, (and) it puts us in a position to do just that.”

Reese announced his retirement Monday afternoon, fresh off winning his 15th national championship. In two days’ time, Reese went from jumping fully clothed into the pool after the Longhorns clinched the National Title to disclosing his long-speculated plan to step away from his role as head coach at Texas. Reese will now serve as coach emeritus following the Olympic Trials in June.

The 79-year-old can change his occupation, but he can’t change the impact he’s had on hundreds of Texas athletes during his time at UT. Former swimmer Michael Klueh committed to the Longhorns in 2005. After taking a recruiting trip to Austin, Klueh knew Texas was the spot for him.

“At the time, some of the other places I was looking at were having a little bit more success, and it’s hard to believe that someone else was having more success than Eddie (Reese),” Kleuh said “Texas was kind of the whole package, and that always started and ended with Eddie.”

While each swimmer’s accomplishments in the pool were important to Reese, the growth they displayed in their character outside the pool was equally as vital to the Texas program.

“He kind of realized how small (the) sport was in the big scheme of things, and I probably feel like that’s the most important part,” former swimmer Ricky Berens said. “If you were struggling in school, he made sure swimming was in the backseat: ‘Don’t come to practice for a week until you get this together.’”

Berens committed to Texas in 2007, and after one year under Reese, he qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games.

“I was highly recruited in high school, but no one expected me to make an Olympic team,” Berens said. “But sitting down with Eddie, there’s no doubt in his mind that I was making an Olympic team. I was a good swimmer out of high school and I think he made me a great swimmer.”

Even after all these years, Reese still keeps up with his old swimmers.

“We don’t talk as much as I would like to, but (when we do), we just fall right back into it like we’ve never missed a step,” Kleuh said. “He has taken generation upon generation of boys that showed up and (taught) us how to kind of handle ourselves. Not just in the pool, but in the classroom, getting good grades and (in) life.”

While his legacy as one of the greatest to walk the pool deck is undeniable, Reese’s lessons on personal development have lasted longer with his swimmers than any practical coaching.

“I think about him daily. You think about the conversations you have with him. (About) how to be a father, how to be a husband, how you go about your daily life, in your job,” Berens said. “Every hour of the day you think about a lesson or something that happened that makes you just a better person.”

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the March 30 issue of The Daily Texan