Tennessee swimming national champion and world record holder Andy Coan passed away Monday in Boca Raton, Florida, after a battle with liver cancer at age 59.
Coan helped lead Tennessee to the 1978 NCAA swimming and diving team championship, winning both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events as the Vols dominated the sprint freestyle events.
He finished his career winning seven NCAA titles, five individual events and two relays. The close of his UT career was defined by resiliency and perseverance. Shortly after the 1979 season, he was in a car accident which shattered both wrists and a kneecap. Less than a year later — his wrists held together by metal plates and screws — he captured the 1980 NCAA 50 freestyle championship.
Coan was a swimming champion before he even set foot on Rocky Top. In 1975 at age 17, he set the world record in the 100-meter freestyle in 51.11 at an AAU meet in Fort Lauderdale.
He would have been a favorite to make the 1980 Olympics in Moscow could not compete because of the U.S. boycott. He also missed the 1976 Montreal Games by one thousandth of a second.
Following his competitive swimming career, Coan remained closely connected to the sport for the rest of his life, coaching on the club and high school levels in his home state of Florida.