Alan Switzer Jr., who established the foundation for the University of Maine swimming and diving program from its inception, has died. He was 90.
Switzer headed UMaine swimming for 18 years starting in 1971, guiding the Black Bears men to two New England championships and an overall record of 139-61.
“It cannot be overstated how much influence Al had on me personally but, more importantly, on University of Maine swimming and swimming in the state of Maine, said Jeff Wren, the UMaine women’s coach from 1971-1990 and the head of both programs from 1990-2010.
“From the very beginning, he set a tone of excellence, accountability, and class for everything that happened at Wallace Pool. Within a few short years, his men’s team was the best in New England and my women’s team followed that path short thereafter, building a legacy he established,” Wren said. “He asked a lot, gave a lot, and produced notable results.”
Each year, UMaine swimming and diving presents the “Switzer Dedication Award” to a student-athlete in his honor. He was inducted into the UMaine Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
Switzer, a native of New Rochelle, New York, graduated in 1948 from Winchester (Massachusetts) High School, where he was a standout student-athlete. He was a baseball star at Harvard University and played in the Cape Cod League.
Switzer graduated from Harvard in 1952, then served in the army during the Korean War. He earned a Master’s in education from Harvard in 1954.
He began his career in education in 1955 at Hebron Academy, then in 1962 moved to The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where he was a teacher, led the swim team and was an assistant coach in football and baseball.
Switzer’s UMaine men won New England titles in 1976 and 1978. In 1990, he resigned and moved to New Hampshire with his wife Betsy (Husson). He took over as the women’s swimming and diving coach at Plymouth State University, where he remained until 2018.
“He was clearly dedicated to his teams but he also had comparable passion for teaching all ages of swimming and water safety,” Wren said.
“Everything that happened at Wallace Pool had his stamp on it.”
Switzer was inducted into the Maine Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 2015 and is recognized as a four-time recipient of the New England Women’s Diving Coach of the Year, earning the honor in 2003, 2004, 2017 and 2018.
“We could talk swimming forever,” Wren said of Switzer. “Our most recent talks were limited only by cell phone battery life. There are so many stories. Hearing as I am now from his former swimmers, I am assured that they will last forever.”