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August 10, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Quick: "I've lived a dream for 40 years" Quick: "I've lived a dream for 40 years" (August 10, 2005)

Stanford coach bids farewell following his final swimming meet

by Rick Eymer

As Palo Alto High sophomore Liv Jensen touched the wall to help the Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics club team win the 400 medley relay, Stanford coach Richard Quick must have had mixed feelings.

The moment Jensen touched mean the end of a long and glorious coaching career for Quick, and the relay team - which also included Stanford sophomore Brooke Bishop, Stanford grad Tara Kirk, and Stanford senior Dana Kirk - embraced the past, present and future of Quick's legacy.

Quick, as usual, leaves a winner. The relay team won the final event (in 4:10.00) of the U.S. National Swimming Championships in Irvine on Sunday; the final meet in which Quick coached.

"I've lived a dream for 40 years," Quick said. "It's been an unbelievable series of phenomenal experiences."

Also on the final day, Quick was able to enjoy great efforts from Stanford junior Ben Wildman-Tobriner, who earned his first national title by upsetting world champion Roland Schoeman in the 50 free. Wildman-Tobriner won in 22.13. Bishop was third in the women's 50 free in 25.79.

Several past and present Stanford swimmers performed well in the four-day meet. Grad Randall Bal led a dominating performance in the 100 back on Saturday, winning the event in 54.09. Grad Peter Marshall was second in 54.77, followed by grad Jayme Cramer in fourth (55.25) and junior Hongzhe Sun in fifth (55.63).

Dana Kirk finished second in the 100 fly in 59.31 and Tara Kirk was third in the 100 breast in 1:08.57. Bishop added a fourth-place finish in the 100 back (1:03.51). Wildman-Tobriner was fifth in the 100 fly in 53.52.

All nice presents for Quick, who won a record 12 NCAA titles, and is a six-time Olympic coach, three as the head man (1988, 1996, 2000). He was an assistant in 1984, 1992 and 2004.

Quick was named the 2000 United States Olympic Committee Coach of the Year.

"This is my last swimming meet as a coach, and it's kind of a strange feeling because I've wanted to be a swimming coach since I was 12 years old," Quick said. "The biggest thing I'm going to miss is being a partner with the athletes and living their dreams. I just loved that, and I'm going to miss it a lot. But, I'm closing out this phase of my life, and I'm very excited about where I'm headed."

The first place Quick is headed is to spend more time with his family in Austin, Texas. His current plans will revolve around the football schedule of his 13-year-old grandson Blake Brown.

He also has an important event to plan for his 10-year granddaughter and Blake's sister, Emily, when he gets to Austin.

"Her 10th birthday was last May, but she wanted to wait to have the party until I could be there," Quick said smilingly. "We're going to have it at the swimming pool at my house."

Despite his retirement from coaching and family plans, the 62-year-old Quick does not plan on removing himself entirely from the sport he began coaching in 1965 at Memorial High in Houston.

Quick plans to coach with the USA Swimming Masters program, which means making approximately 10 visits a year to various club programs to work with some of the country's top swimmers. He is also going to help with the governance and policymaking of the sport by serving on a national steering committee, in addition to motivational speaking and making appearances at several clinics.

Quick announced his retirement on April 19. He has served for the last 17 seasons as Stanford's head coach and the past 29 campaigns as a collegiate head coach. Seven of his 12 NCAA titles came at Stanford.

"I have so many memories, both at Stanford and in the coaching profession in general," Quick said. "I have been honored to have coached some of the finest athletes in the world, and we've competed at the very highest levels intercollegiately and internationally. But, many of my memories simply revolve around the experience of working with student-athletes on a daily basis. That has been as big of a thrill as anything."

Quick began his Stanford career by winning his first 57 dual meets. He leaves with an all-time dual meet mark of 123-10. The Cardinal won 14 Pac-10 championships during his reign, and he coached 41 NCAA champions who captured a combined 63 national individual titles and 29 NCAA relay crowns.

Quick was named NCAA Coach of the Year five times and the Pac-10 Coach of the Year on four occasions.

"Richard Quick has undeniably been one of the top coaches in the history of swimming," Stanford Athletic Director Dr. Ted Leland said. "He has developed our women's swimming and diving program into one of the most respected and successful programs in the history of collegiate swimming. We wish him success in all of his future endeavors and thank him for his service to Stanford University."

Prior to coming to Stanford, Quick led Texas to a then unprecedented five straight NCAA titles, a string he extended to six in a row in his first season at Stanford in 1989. He was inducted into the Texas Women's Athletics Hall of Fame last November.

Quick also coached at Auburn and Iowa State.

As an Olympic head coach, Quick's 1988 American women squad captured 17 medals, while the 1996 team accumulated seven gold, five silver and two bronze medals. In 2000, his squad brought home 16 medals (seven gold, two silver, seven bronze).

He's also coached four consecutive World Championship teams; as the head coach in 1986, 1990 and 1994, and as an assistant in 1982. He also coached at the 1990 Goodwill Games, three Pan Pacific Games (1983, `85, `87), the 1985 World University Games and the 1979 Pan American Games.

Quick also served as post-collegiate coach for some of the top women's swimmers in American history. Jenny Thompson, Dara Torres and Misty Hyman trained with Quick in preparation for the 2000 Olympics, and are just three of many post-collegiate athletes he trained.

"I do have some other opportunities that I hope to pursue, but they will be secondary to spending time with my family," Quick said. "I've heard coaches say that when they get close to a point where they're ready to retire, and when I was younger I didn't really understand that. But as you get a little order, you do begin to understand it, and that's where I am."

While Schoeman was the favorite in the 50 free, Wildman-Tobriner can always count on at least one supporter.

"Most people probably thought Roland would win it but there's always my mom who thinks I'm going to win every time," he said. "I knew I could go that fast based on my short course times at NCAAs. I just had to make it happen in the long pool."

While Wildman-Tobriner, who was fifth in the 100 free, won his first national title, Bal won his third consecutive national title.

"I have a lot of things to improve on but coming off a long taper I'm pretty happy to be swimming close to my best time," Bal said. "I've been learning some things about swimming this event and I'm pretty confident."

Cramer added a third-place finish in the 200 free on Friday in a field that included American record holder Michael Phelps. Cramer had the best time in the prelims at 1:48.71 while Phelps had the second-best time at 1:49.74.

Sun also finished sixth in the 200 back in 2:02.60, while junior Shaun Phillips placed ninth in the 800 free.

The top finishes by Stanford women on Friday came as members of 800 free relay teams. Freshman Andrea Axtell swam the first leg (2:04.62) of a second-place Longhorn Aquatics squad that finished in 8:16.08 and sophomore Elizabeth Durot swam the leadoff leg (2:04.07) for ninth-place Dynamo Swim Club.

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