'This Man Is a Legend': Michael Phelps Honors Olympic Swim Coach Jon Urbanchek After His Death

Michael Phelps is celebrating the life of his swim coach Jon Urbanchek, who died on May 9 at age 87

Published Time: 12.05.2024 - 05:31:04 Modified Time: 12.05.2024 - 05:31:04

Michael Phelps is celebrating the life of his swim coach Jon Urbanchek, who died on May 9 at age 87.

On Saturday, May 11, the Olympic gold medalist shared a post on Instagram to pay tribute to the late Olympic and collegiate swim coach.

"I'm beyond grateful for the time I got to spend with Urbanchek," Phelps, 38, began his heartfelt caption.

"I can still hear him saying 'keep it moving,' 'ey , _____ MOVE IT!'" the father of four continued, seemingly referring to Urbanchek playfully calling him names during training. "Thinking about what he taught me in and out of the pool… one of the most influential ppl I've had in my life…this man is a legend and truly one of one!"

In the post, Phelps shared photos of Urbanchek holding his now 8-year-old son, Boomer, as a baby, and posing with him, wife Nicole Phelps, their family and some fellow coaches. He also included some selfies of himself and Urbanchek enjoying dinner and spending time together.

"RIP buddy…. ❤️❤️," the 28-time Olympic medalist concluded his caption.

According to a press release from the University of Michigan's athletic department — where Urbanchek was a former student, as well as a longtime men's swimming and diving coach — Urbanchek died at his home in Fullerton, Calif.

The late coach, who immigrated from Hungary after the 1956 Soviet invasion, swam for Michigan and later became a coach at the Ann Arbor-based university after his graduation, assisting then-head coach Bob Bowman — who coached Phelps during many of his Olympic appearances and throughout his celebrated professional career.


Urbanchek served as a Team USA coach at the Olympics in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004, and acted as a special coach in 2008 and 2012. He also coached "a number of World Championship, Pan American Games and other U.S. International Teams," the university wrote.

Never miss a story — sign up forPEOPLE's free daily newsletterto stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"All told, Urbanchek coached 44 Olympians to more than 20 medals, including 11 gold, six silver and four bronze medals in five overall Olympic Games, counting four world record holders among his coaching achievements," the university added.

Several other major figures in the Olympic swimming world spoke out after Urbanchek's death to reflect on his storied career, including seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky.

"It is hard to express how much Jon Urbanchek has meant to me since I first met him in 2012," Ledecky, 27, wrote in the University of Michigan's press release. "He was my coach on the 2012 Olympic team and he has been a coach, a mentor and a friend since then. I learned so much from him."

"He was a kind and dedicated coach who never forgot his swimmers. I will never forget his dedication to our sport, his humor, his coaching style and his love for Team U.S.A," she continued of Urbanchek. "He was a coach of coaches. I know that all of my coaches learned something from him. I am so lucky to have had him as a part of my team…he never stopped coaching and encouraging me."

Follow Us