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Interview: Ryan Lochte remembers late Olympic coach Jon Urbanchek

Ryan Lochte, 12-time Olympic medalist and world record holder swimmer, remembered the late Olympic and university coach Jon Urbanchek.

Ryan Lochte
Olympian Ryan Lochte. Photo Courtesy of 'The Jennifer Hudson Show.'
Olympian Ryan Lochte. Photo Courtesy of 'The Jennifer Hudson Show.'

Ryan Lochte, 12-time Olympic medalist and world record holder swimmer, remembered the late Olympic and university coach Jon Urbanchek.

Urbanchek passed away earlier this month on May 9, 2024, at the age of 87, and Olympians, coaches, and swimmers from all over the globe (including Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps) gathered to pay tribute to his honor and influence in the sport.

In his illustrious career, Urbanchek coached 44 Olympians to 21 total Olympic medals: 11 gold, six silver, and four bronze. The late Jon Urbanchek spoke with Digital Journal back in December of 2019 (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Swim Clinic at Life Time in Garden City, New York

On Saturday, May 18, Lochte participated in a Swim Clinic at Life Time in Garden City on Long Island, New York, along with his father Steven Lochte, a veteran coach in his own right.

This clinic was held at the outdoor pool deck of Life Time, where they spoke and coached a younger generation of swimmers how to do proper starts, flip turns, and each of the four strokes (backstroke, freestyle, breaststroke, and butterfly).

Ryan Lochte at LifeTime in Garden City
Ryan Lochte at LifeTime in Garden City. Photo Credit: Alaina Bello

Philip Satriano of Life Time remarked, “We were so excited to have Ryan Lochte back for the second time. This was a different clinic with a fresh approach, where he focused on starts, dives off the blocks, and all the different strokes. Ryan has opened up the season for the summer of 2024, where today is day one.”

Lessons Ryan Lochte taught the young athletes

In this “Legendary Swim Academy” Clinic, he went on to share the three rules that he lives by: first and foremost, listen to your coach, because they are there to help you. Second, set short-term and long-term goals, which are “very important.” “You have a purpose each day that you wake up,” Ryan noted.

“The third rule is the most important rule, and that one is to have fun,” he exclaimed. “It’s swimming and it doesn’t run your life. These rules can help you guys. It’s about perseverance and setting a goal,” Ryan underscored.

Ryan, who has been swimming since the age of eight, noted that in order for one to become a better swimmer, one needs to “work hard” and “have good technique.” “Technique will get you everywhere,” he said.

Jack Keene, who is a lifeguard and swims for the SUNY Geneseo Knights, stated, “This event was really cool. I’m a college swimmer and I know a lot about swimming in general, but just having him here was awesome. Ryan gave me so many tips that I found very helpful and insightful… so that was great.”

Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte of the United States celebrates with his gold medal during the Victory Ceremony for the men’s 400m Individual Medley on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre – Digital Journal Staff

Key to longevity in Olympic sports

For longevity in Olympic sports, Ryan expressed that it is important to get comfortable being uncomfortable, because that will “make you succeed.”

“If you are having fun, you are going to be able to do it longer, and that will lead to your longevity,” Ryan acknowledged.

Ryan Lochte on Jon Urbanchek

On the late but great Jon Urbanchek, Ryan said, “Jon Urbanchek was the king of the pool deck. His famous words were ‘move it.’ Jon was the one coach that taught me how to do a crossover turn, and I learned it for my first Olympics back in 2004 in between our camps.”

“I had one month to learn the crossover turn, and I did it at the Olympic Games, and I earned a silver medal,” Ryan said. “That was all because of ‘Urbs.’ This was the best story ever… He told me ‘just move over, let me do it.’ Jon took off his shirt, jumped in the water, and did the crossover turn and taught me it literally right before the Olympics.”

“Jon Urbanchek will go down in history as one of the world’s best coaches that the sport of swimming has ever known,” Ryan acknowledged. “Urbs will always be forever cherished and loved.”

Coach Steven Lochte on Jon Urbanchek

“Coach Jon [Urbanchek] always brought a smile to my son’s face, that’s for sure,” Coach Steven recalled.

Coach Steven continued, “Ryan has always told me that there are only five coaches that he considered as the top, and Jon was always there in the Top 5. When I was on the pool deck with Jon, he was a great motivator and he brought a light to the sport. It was fun coaching, and it was positive. Whenever he spoke, he really motivated his athletes in practice.”

To learn more about Ryan Lochte, follow him on Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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