Godspeed Coach Quick

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Richard Quick, former UT swim coach, diesWednesday, June 10, 2009, 10:26 PM

Former Longhorn women’s swim coach Richard Quick died tonight in Austin at age 66, his family said.Quick had more recently been the head swim coach at Auburn and was diagnosed in December with inoperable brain cancer.At Texas, Quick’s teams dominated the late 1980s, winning five consecutive NCAA titles from 1984-88.After leaving UT, Quick won seven national titles at Stanford, where he coached in 2005, and then became the head men’s and women’s coach at Auburn.Funeral arrangements are pending.Here’s an article that Statesman staffer John Maher wrote about Quick in February, when swimmers around the country were competing to raise money for cancer research in Quick’s name:Swimmers join a great coach’s battleBy John Maher, American-Statesman staff, February 11, 2009A few days ago Richard Quick was in Phoenix, enjoying a stroll. Such walks are now part of his daily regimen, a way to get some exercise while also soaking up some sunshine to aid his body in producing Vitamin D. Those are two of the many steps Quick, 66, is taking in his battle against inoperable brain cancer, a condition that was diagnosed in December.

This Saturday, hundreds of swimmers will be able to join Quick in his fight by taking part in Swim Across America’s fundraiser to create an endowment in Quick’s name for cancer research. One of the pools that will be used for the “Swim Quick” event is the Jamail Texas Swimming Center , where Quick trained the University of Texas women’s teams that won five straight NCAA titles from 1984-88.Other hubs will be at Stanford, where Quick won seven women’s NCAA championships before leaving in 2005; Auburn, where he recently became head men’s and women’s swim coach; and Southern Methodist, where he swam in college.”We’ve never done a worldwide swim of this sort,” said Janel Jorgensen, executive director of Swim Across America. “I thought it would be neat if we could all swim on this one day.”Jorgensen, who swam for Quick at Stanford and in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, is one of the many swimmers who have been in influenced by Quick. A good number of those athletes competed at Texas .”Swimming was the first dominant women’s sport champion (at Texas),” said Donna Lopiano, former UT women’s athletic director . “It gave us time to put basketball and other team sports on the map.”After Paul Bergen left Texas following the 1982 season, Lopiano began a search for a new swim coach, armed with facilities and a pay scale that few other schools could match.”We did what we’d do for every search. We call the top 10 schools and ask: Who’s the best coach?” Lopiano said.Texas women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky, who then worked in the sports information department , recalled that “the same name kept popping up. We all wondered, who is this guy, Richard Quick? I saw his mug shot and started giggling: It’s Opie!”Back then the 39-year-old Quick might have looked young and Mayberry naive, but he had already logged time from 1978-82 as the men’s and women’s swim coach at Auburn. Before that he had coached at Southern Methodist and Iowa State and won state titles at Memorial High School in Houston.It didn’t hurt Lopiano’s recruiting effort that Quick had some Austin ties.”I spent part of my youth in Austin, from 5 until I was 11,” recalled Quick, who attended Casis Elementary and who first learned to swim from Wally Pryor at the Austin Aquatics Club.When Quick returned to Austin as UT’s women’s coach he found himself at a special place at a special time.”It really was a great time for athletics, particularly women’s athletics ” it was exciting,” Quick said.Not long after he arrived at Texas, though, Quick heard a disconcerting scouting report from Eddie Reese, who earlier had left Auburn to coach the UT men’s team .”He said that two of the three best swimmers on campus weren’t even on the team,” Quick recalled.Jill Sterkel, who had won NCAA championships in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and butterfly, returned to the team, but Joan Pennington, who been the Longhorns’ most valuable swimmer as a freshman in 1979, before Sterkel arrived, was out of competitive swimming. So was Dawn Rodighiero.Quick recruited both of them.”I had quit swimming after 1980 because I was burned out,” Joan Pennington Dyer related. “I swore that I would never touch the water again. That is how much I hated swimming at the time. So two years passed and, true to my word, I never swam at all, not one lap.”Out of nowhere, in the fall of 1982, I received a call from Richard Quick. I had no idea why he was calling me. He said he would like to talk to me about the possibility of a comeback. I laughed and thought that he must be desperate or crazy or both ” meeting him that day (the following week) changed my whole life.”Pennington ended up winning the NCAA championship in the 100 butterfly in 1984, and was named the team’s most valuable swimmer as Texas claimed its first NCAA women’s swimming championship that year.

Other coaches at UT were impressed by Quick’s style.”He wasn’t a Bobby Knight,” recalled Mick Haley, the former volleyball coach at UT. “He had all his kids in the palm of his hand, and he wasn’t yelling and screaming and kicking over the wastebasket.”Plonsky added, “He was definitely a deck coach. He could make somebody believe that they could get to the wall faster than anybody else.”Fighting the battleQuick continued his winning ways when he moved to Stanford. Before the 2000 Olympics, he worked with American swimmers Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres, both of whom starred in Sydney.Quick retired from Stanford in 2005 and moved to Spicewood to spend more time with his family, although he was still doing some consulting for USA Swimming. In the spring of 2007, an opportunity opened for Quick to return to Auburn as the men’s and women’s swim coach.It was there that Quick began experiencing some physical problems.”I began to notice something in November. I just wasn’t as assertive, creative and decisive “” said Quick, whose father-in-law was battling cancer at the time . ” I passed it off as stress.”Then one day Quick became disoriented, taking a couple of wrong turns while driving home from work.”I thought it might be Alzheimer’s,” he said. Instead the problem was discovered to be an advanced and aggressive brain cancer .Quick visited some of the top treatment centers in this country, including M.D. Anderson, Sloan-Kettering and Duke. The diagnoses were about the same. The cancer was inoperable, and the standard treatments, radiation and chemotherapy, didn’t offer a great prognosis.As a swim coach, Plonsky said, Quick “was always looking for the next cutting-edge thing. There was never a trinket or a training device that he was afraid to try.”He’s bringing a similar approach to this battle.”We haven’t shut the door on conventional medicine,” Quick said, “but so far I have chosen to battle it outside the box.”Quick was talking on speaker phone; he no longer puts a cell phone to his ear. He’s also receiving ozone treatments and intravenous doses of Vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid.”He’s known for his out-of-the-box approach,” Jorgensen said. “Part of that is going with more of the homeopathic route with his treatment.”A cancer survivor , Pennington Dyer said , “When I was healing from cancer or adrenal fatigue or depression, I would go back to that time with Richard and my team to help my cells and my body remember the joy and aliveness ” he gave me back a love for swimming and a love for life.”

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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