On heels of 2021 National Championship, Eddie Reese to retire after 43 seasons at Texas
AUSTIN, Texas — After 43 seasons and on the heels of his 15th National Championship, Eddie Reese is retiring as the head coach of the Texas Men’s Swimming & Diving program. Reese’s extraordinary run leading the nation’s premier program has been unprecedented. Hired in 1979 by Longhorn Legend Darrell Royal, who at the time was Athletics Director, Reese went on to set the standard in collegiate Swimming & Diving, posting 42 straight conference titles, 41 straight top-10 finishes, as well as 12 NCAA runner-up finishes and six third-place showings to go with his 15 national titles. Reese, whose retirement will take effect after this summer’s Olympics, will continue in an emeritus role with the program after that, while Assistant Swimming Coach Wyatt Collins will take over as interim head coach.
“Where we are today and where I am today is made possible by everyone who has swum here before and is swimming here now,” Reese said. “They are such a big part of the success of this program. When people get together with the mindset of accomplishing something, even though it is tough during that year in time, it just adds up to something truly amazing. I want to thank those guys who trusted me, did all the hard workouts and made the sacrifices in and out of the water. It has been an honor for me to be a part of this program.”
“I am going to be a coach emeritus. That means I can still help and I want to do that. It’s important for all of us. Working with swimmers has been one of the true joys of my life, and I definitely want to keep doing that. In my long 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. Coaching allows me to do that.”
Reese, the only swimming coach to win NCAA team titles in five separate decades (1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s), won his first national title in 1981, and this past Saturday secured another one 40 years later. Excluding the 2020 meet that was canceled as a result of COVID-19, Texas has won five of the last six NCAA Championships (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021) contested. His 15 national championships are tied for seventh-most by any coach, in any sport in NCAA history. All totaled, his Longhorn teams have finished among the top-three at the NCAA Championships in 34 of his 43 years at the helm. Reese led Texas to the Southwest Conference Championship in 1980 and went on to register 17 straight SWC titles. When the Longhorns joined the Big 12 Conference and Swimming & Diving competition commenced in 1997, Reese dominated that league, too, winning all of the 25 championship meets to date.
“Eddie Reese is truly the greatest coach ever,” said UT Vice President and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte. “His records speak for themselves, but the way he led his program, trained and prepared his student-athletes to perform at their best in the pool and all facets of their lives, is just exemplary and extraordinary. Nobody has or ever will do it better. There certainly is some a level of sadness seeing our legend retire, but what a wonderful time it is to celebrate his amazing legacy. Rest assured though, while he will be stepping aside as head coach after the Olympic Games this summer, we are fortunate that he’s agreed to continue on in an emeritus role with our program. Thankfully, that will allow his impact with our student-athletes to carry on.”
An eight-time NCAA Coach of the Year, four-time American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) Coach of the Year and three-time College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) National Coach of the Year, Reese’s Longhorns won 73 NCAA individual titles and 52 relay crowns during his time at Texas. The recently completed outdoor pool facility, located just outside of the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, was opened in August and named in his honor.
“To coach swimming well, it cannot be a job. It’s got to be a lifestyle,” Reese said. “In reality, I haven’t had a job for the 55 years that I’ve coached. It has been an incredible part of my life. And the incredible part has had nothing to do with winning and losing. It has to do with the people that I’ve been lucky enough to be around. They have kept me young, and they showed great acceptance by continuing to laugh at my bad jokes.”
“For those who add to the program, from the parents of the swimmers to compliance to academics to nutrition to the training room, and to The University of Texas, this could not have been accomplished without your contributions.”
Three-time head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s swimming team (1992, 2004, 2008), he coached 29 Longhorn Olympians who collected 63 medals (39 gold, 16 silver, eight bronze). He is a member of the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor, Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF).
Reese came to Texas after a remarkable six-year (1972-78) rebuilding job at Auburn University that culminated in four straight Top-10 finishes, including a second-place showing in 1978. A 1963 graduate of Florida, Reese led the Gators to three SEC titles (1961, 1962, 1963). As the team’s co-captain as a senior, he became the first Florida swimmer to win five SEC titles in a single career. He remained at Florida as graduate assistant coach while earning his master’s degree. Reese went on to serve as a high school teacher and coach at Roswell (N.M.) High School for two years (1965-66) before returning to Florida as an assistant coach for six seasons (1967-72).
Reese and his wife, Elinor, have two daughters, Holly and Heather, and four grandchildren. 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, Reagan.