Pooling the memories

The Father of Cougar Swimming is laid to rest

The Father of Cougar Swimming is laid to rest

The man dubbed "The Father of Cougar Swimming and Diving" at the University of Houston was laid to rest on Friday morning.

Beloved Coach Phill Hansel died on August 6, 2010 at the age of 85. A brief illness brought on by a fall precipitated his passing.

Hansel filled the role as head coach of the UH swimming and diving program from 1957 through 1996. Under his mentorship, the Cougar men's and women's teams racked up 10 consecutive Top 20 finishes from 1976 through 1981 at the AIAW and NCAA Championships, and earned more than 70 dual meet wins.

He coached a slew of All-American swimmers, including 18-time national champion Carin Cone. In 1960, Corin became the first UH athlete to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Revered as the promoter of swimming superiority both in Houston and worldwide, Hansel's coaching style was described as "challenging each swimmer to challenge themselves." He often said, "If you can't win, make the winner break a record."

Donations can be made in his honor to the University of Houston Phill Hansel Swimming Excellence Fund.

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Phill Hansel was the head swimming coach at the University of Houston for 39 years. Photo © Ashley Morrison, 1982
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There's no doubt that under Coach Hansel's tutelage, these tadpoles learned to swim well.