Former ASU swim coach Johnson dies at 78

by Jeff Metcalfe - Aug. 9, 2009 04:16 PM
The Arizona Republic

Long-time Arizona State swim coach Ron Johnson died Friday night in Scottsdale at age 78.

Johnson coached the ASU men's swim team for 18 years (1976-93) and also was co-coach with Mona Plummer of ASU women's teams that won 1977 and '78 AIAW national titles in the pre-NCAA days.

Johnson's ASU men's teams earned six top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships including a school best sixth in 1982 and seventh in 1983 and '84. He was 1983 Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Andy Astbury and Mike Orn were NCAA champions for ASU in the early 1980s. Andrew Jameson won a bronze medal in the 100 butterfly at the 1988 Olympics.

Johnson was director of the Mexican national swim team from 1967-73 including at two Olympics and recruited many international swimmers to ASU. More than 25 of his ASU swimmers were Olympic finalists including 14 medal winners. He founded the Mesa Aquatics Club.

Johnson was inducted into the Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2007 because of a masters swim career that included more than 50 world records. He survived multiple heart attacks including one during a Masters meet in March 2007.

Johnson swam for the University of Iowa and on the 1955 U.S. Pan American Games team. He was author of a recent book Romancing the Water.

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