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The #1 student news site of Yorba Linda High School

The Wrangler

Jon Urbanchek: The Legend Coach


The swimming world recently mourned the passing of Jon Urbanchek, a legendary coach whose impact on the sport was profound. Urbanchek, a highly respected figure in the swimming community, passed away on May 9, 2024, at age 87. He is known for his unwavering dedication, innovative training methods, and the remarkable success of his athletes. His passing evokes many treasured memories of those in touch with him; his legacy lives on through the countless Olympians he coached and the many lives he touched.

Jon Urbanchek co-founded the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST) in 1964, a team synonymous with excellence. His commitment to the team and the sport was evident throughout his long career. “I swim for FAST,” Avery Seaman (11), who is on the YLHS swim team and in the FAST swimming club, explains. “His devotion to the team was incredible and has influenced my loyalty to the team, despite the ups and downs of my own life. To me, he was more of an acquaintance; his mere presence on the pool deck showed that FAST had and has a culture of success, hard work, and discipline” (Avery Seaman). 

Urbanchek’s influence extended well beyond the pool deck. He was instrumental in developing the Olympic program at FAST, coaching numerous athletes who would go on to compete on the world stage. Despite his age, his passion never waned. Avery (11) adds, “To see an eighty-year-old man so devoted and inspirational for his athletes motivated and continues to motivate me to try harder out of respect and awe.”

Urbancek’s career was remarkable. He promoted the University of Michigan’s swim program, coaching the team to numerous NCAA titles and producing Olympians for four decades. His journey from emigrating from Hungary to becoming a celebrated coach is a testament to resilience and innovation. “Jon brought the Michigan swim program out of the dust, winning medals and the NCAAs left and right,” Avery highlights. “The success of the swimmers he coached and the success of the workouts he developed prove that anyone can succeed and that there is always a new approach to the old sport.”

Graham Searfus (10), another FAST swimmer on our campus who Coach Jon influenced, echoes this sentiment. “His accomplishments in coaching serve as motivation, so I can learn the techniques and coaching styles that he used to train world-class swimmers,” Graham states. Urbanchek’s innovative approach to training, including the invention of the color system for swim workouts, has had a lasting impact on the sport.” 

Moreover, Avery notes that “he brought several teams to the Olympics with this, and many more will go as a result of this development.”

Graham briefly captures Urbanchek’s lasting impact, stating, “Without a doubt, Coach Jon will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time. His influence on the sport is truly one of a kind.” 

Urbanchek’s philosophy and techniques continue to inspire current and future swimmers. His catchphrase, “Keep it moving!” embodies his approach to life and swimming. Avery (11) reflects, “Throughout the grueling practices and tiresome meets, I will think of him and keep it moving in honor of him and the sport he loved.”

As Graham (10) prepares for his final years on the YLHS swim team, he is determined to carry Urbanchek’s teachings and vows, stating, “…I will personally be using Coach Jon’s training advice to become the best I possibly can be.”

Jon Urbanchek’s legacy is a testament to the power of dedication, innovation,and passion. His contributions to the swimming community set high standards and inspired generations of swimmers to strive for excellence. His legacy will undoubtedly continue to influence and inspire athletes for years to come.

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About the Contributor
Cynthia Lan
Cynthia Lan, Photojournalist
Cynthia Lan is a sophomore at Yorba Linda High School, and she is eager to embark on her second year at The Wrangler. She is a member of the women's varsity swimming team. Her favorite subject is biology. Outside of school, Cynthia enjoys watching movies, spending time with friends and family, and listening to music. On weekends, she is at the pool and practices swimming with her swim club. In the future, Cynthia hopes to study sports medicine, because it is what she loves. Cynthia wants to publish impactful articles through the newspaper and engage the Yorba Linda community positively.

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