Ray Essick, 1st executive director of USA Swimming, dies

Updated 5/23/2016 11:46 AM

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Ray Essick, the first executive director of USA Swimming, has died. He was 82.

He died Saturday at a care facility in Colorado Springs, according to USA Swimming, which learned of his death from a family friend. No cause was given Sunday.


Essick guided the sport's U.S. governing body from its formation in 1980 until his retirement in 1997, when Chuck Wielgus took over. Previously, Essick led the swimming committee for the AAU.

"Ray Essick led our sport through a period of enormous growth and prosperity," Wielgus said. "He brought his passion as a coach and his drive for success to his role as USA Swimming's first executive director. He was a mentor and a dear friend."

Essick was inducted into the American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame last year. He received the 1998 USA Swimming Award and the American Red Cross gave him the Good Neighbor Award in 1997 for being an outstanding volunteer.

In 1960, he started the Lake Forest Swim Club in Illinois and served as head coach before leaving in 1966 to become swim coach at Southern Illinois University. After seven years there, Essick was hired as swim coach at Harvard, where he guided the Crimson from 1973-76.

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He is survived by wife Toni, sons Ray and Brad and daughters Anne and Kate.


This story has been corrected to show that Essick's daughter's name is spelled Anne, not Ann.

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