Tom Haynie, perhaps the most successful swimming coach in collegiate history, died May 27 at a care facility in Santa Barbara. The Morro Bay resident was 94.
Haynie’s stellar swimming career began at the University of Michigan where he won NCAA titles in the 220-yard and 440-yard freestyle events in 1937 and 1939. He also swam legs on the NCAA championship 400-yard relay teams from 1937-39, years in which the Wolverine swimming team won national championships.
Born in Iowa on May 17,1916, Haynie graduated from Michigan and later earned his doctorate at Stanford University, where he subsequently earned recognition in the university’s Hall of Fame for his career as coach of the then-Indians.
The Stanford swimming program isn’t one long on change; it’s had only four coaches in its history: Ernie Brandsten, 1916-47; Haynie, 1947-60; Jim Gaughran, 1960-79; and the current coach, Skip Kenney. Although the program may be short on change, it’s been long on talent — especially under Haynie’s guidance.
While at Stanford, he coached 100 freestyle world record holder Robin Moore as well as Olympians George Harrison and Paul Hait. Other swimming legends that came under his tutelage were Robert Anderson, Robin Moore, Ralph Sala and Tom Peterson.
Haynie pooled such a powerhouse program at Stanford that it compiled an 84-9 (.903) dual meet record during his tenure, as well as finishing sixth or better at the NCAA national championships during seven of his 13 years at the helm.
Haynie met his future wife, Sherrye, when he interviewed her for a job as a lifeguard at a Palo Alto municipal pool.
A member of the Screen Actor’s Guild with some 35 films to her credit, Sherrye recalled, “I dressed up in one of my film bathing suits and knocked on his door for the interview. He answered, took one look and said, ‘You’re hired.’ We were married about a year later.”
That was 60-plus years ago. They subsequently raised Tom Jr., Casey, Julie and Sheri.
After his career at Stanford ended in 1960, the Haynies set up residences in Laguna Beach and Hawaii, where Haynie coached at Punahou School — the private high school that President Barack Obama attended — until 1981.
“He never asked for anything for himself,” daughter Julie told Stanford University’s The Dish, “no glamour, no notoriety. But he is greatly loved all over the world by those who either swam for him at Stanford or were his students and swimmers at Punahou.”
The Haynies subsequently made homes in Hawaii, Laguna Beach and Morro Bay, where the couple enjoyed an active social life.
Former Stanford swimming coach Gaughran told Swimming World Magazine that he had visited with Haynie before his death. “…Although his memory was fading, he was still his great upbeat self. Still dancing and playing his harmonica, and never forgiving Peter Daland for taking Murray Rose away from him (to USC).”
Stanford President John L. Hennessy noted Haynie’s passing: “I know how highly Tom was regarded by his colleagues in Stanford Athletics, the students he coached, and throughout the university. He will be deeply missed.”
Haynie has been cremated. His ashes will be spread at the couple’s former home at Makaha, Oahu. A private memorial will be held at a later date.