Richard Thornton, US Olympian and Veteran Swimming Coach Passes Away at 65

Richard Thornton, US Olympian and Veteran Swimming Coach Passes Away at 65

US Olympian and Esteemed Coach Richard Thornton’s Sudden Demise

In a heartbreaking turn of events, Richard Thornton, a 65-year-old US Olympian and accomplished swimming coach, passed away after experiencing a medical emergency while surfing at a well-known Santa Cruz spot.

The news was shared by his younger brother, Marc Thornton, who confirmed the tragic incident on Facebook.

Fond Farewell to a Passionate Surfer

Expressing condolences, Marc Thornton acknowledged his brother’s love for surfing, stating, ‘Sorry for having to share this information, but Richard Thornton passed away surfing today at The Hook in Santa Cruz. Doing what he loved.

More to follow, but wanted to let everyone know.’

Olympian Who Boycotted the 1980 Games

Richard Thornton was a notable member of the US Olympic swim team in 1980, a team that made the difficult decision to boycott the Moscow games.

Following his Olympic career, he transitioned into coaching and had been at the helm of the San Ramon Valley Aquatics since 1984.

Extensive Coaching Legacy

Thornton’s coaching career extended beyond local affiliations, as he coached US national and junior national teams in various international locations, including Paris, Japan, and Brazil.

His contributions to the sport garnered recognition, and he became a revered figure in the swimming community.

Educational Background and Family Ties

A UC Berkeley graduate with a bachelor’s degree, Richard Thornton hailed from a family deeply rooted in swimming.

His father, Nort Thornton, served as the swim coach for UC Berkeley for over three decades, creating a legacy within the university’s athletic program.

Swimming Community Mourns a Great Loss

The passing of Richard Thornton reverberated through the swimming community, with Pacific Swimming describing it as ‘a great loss to the swimming community’ in an official statement.

The sudden demise of this Olympian and esteemed coach leaves a void in the world of swimming, where his impact will be remembered and celebrated.

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