A legendary Massachusetts high school swimming coach died just two days before the Division I state championship meet, leading to a series of tributes and a moment of silence at the state’s most important swimming event.
As reported by the Boston Globe and SwimSwam, longtime Acton-Boxborough (Mass.) High School Jeff Johnson died just days before the annual Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association state swimming meet. His passing ended three decades of leadership of the Colonials swim teams, as well as the team associated with the town of Acton.
None of the Colonials swimmers placed at the Division I meet, though senior Hunter Whitbeck finished in fourth in the 1 meter diving event and Alex Zhang finished in seventh in the 100 yard freestyle.
“He was like the godfather of Massachusetts high school swimming,” former Weston (Mass.) High School athletic director and swim coach Pete Foley told the Globe. “He was a tremendous mentor for young coaches, and talking to him was like a swimming clinic.”
In all, Johnson’s teams captured 13 Dual County League titles, 10 Sectional titles, and nine state championships.
Added former Acton swimmer Corben Miles, who now competes for Georgia Tech: “My favorite saying of his was, ‘We’ve got a long way to go,’ because no matter how fast our team went, there was always room for improvement. He was the most inspirational coach I’ve ever had.”
That was true both for Acton-Boxborough swimmers and competitors, some of whom were teammates for the Patriot Swim Club out of season.