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Peter Daland

Oct 21, 2014  - James Parrack

 Peter Daland, the longtime coach of the USC Trojans and two-time Olympic coach for USA Swimming, has passed away at the age of 93 due to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the University.

Daland coached the Trojans from 1958 to 1992 as they won nine team and 93 individual titles in the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association championships.

In addition, he co-founded Swimming World and I recommend reading their article here and watching his interviews which are linked in the piece.

Born in New York City on April 12, 1921, Daland grew up in suburban Philadelphia.  From 1950 to 1954, he was an assistant swimming coach at Yale under the legendary coach Robert J. H. Kiphuth.  In 1956 Daland moved to Los Angeles, coaching the LA Athletic Club and at U.S.C. and a legacy was created. He’s still the only coach ever to win all three major national championships: the NCAA championship, the AAU men’s championship and the AAU women’s championship.

Daland was one of the central figures that  shaped US swimming into the most dominant sports team in the history, and which remains so.  Along with Doc Counsilman in Indiana, George Haines in Santa Clara, Don Gambril in Alabama, plus Forbes Carlile in Australia, among many others, these coaches brought a forensic approach to understanding the hows and whys of better swimming, in a bid to improve their athletes generation after generation.

USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus: “Coach Peter Daland was, without question, a giant in the sport of swimming. The life he led, the many he positively impacted and the contributions he made are unmatched. Coach Daland carried himself in a manner that brought respect from everyone he met and for every institution he represented, including USA Swimming. The American swimming family and the international swimming community have unfortunately lost one of our sport’s most iconic figures.”

Current USC Trojan head coach Dave Salo: “The world of swimming has lost one of its most progressive minds. Personally, I have lost a great and close personal friend. Peter was instrumental in teaching me the championship process. He was about relationships and driving the process to championship performance through team work.  As the current USC head coach, I have tried to carry on many of Peter’s traditions. For instance, I spec out the championship meet the way Peter always did, I remind our athletes like Peter did how important timeliness is and we continue to foster an environment where our alumni are celebrated guests on our deck as they always were when Peter was coaching here.”

Despite his successes, Daland used the past to focus on the present. “I never looked at it like, ‘These are all the great things I’ve done,’ “ he told Splash magazine in 2002. “What you do remember are the grievous losses. That keeps you from thinking too much about the past, because you remember the ones that got away in recruiting. Or ones who didn’t make it onto the Olympic team when they should have. Or the team that lost the N.C.A.A. championship when it should have won. Or the bad training you gave to someone that led to a bad result.”

He added, “The dissatisfaction from those things fade as things go on, and you get more involved in the present.”

 Terry Denison, former City of Leeds and GBR head coach: "Peter Daland was the "ever present" amongst all these great coaches during my time in coaching. He was a true gentleman in the very best sense of the words. I great coach in his own right but always ready to help and mentor other coaches around the world. He was revered and respected wherever he went and I count myself fortunate to have known him. His memory and the example he set will live on for many years to come."

 On a personal note, Daland was ever present at the major championships with his work as a FINA advisor in the 1990s and 2000s and I remember an evening meal with him in Berlin in 2002, where the conversation was always rooted in the present and how improvement might continue to be made, rather than focus on the good old days.

Daland leaves behind his wife, whom he had been married to for almost 50 years, along with 5 children and 8 grandchildren.