Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: In a secret shack with my many men :p
My thoughts and prayers goes out to his family
Olympic medalist Namesnik dies of injuries
BY JO-ANN BARNASDetroit Free PressDETROIT - As word of Eric Namesnik's death spread throughout the swimming community Wednesday, friends of the former two-time Olympic silver medalist honored him the best possible way: They celebrated his life.
Namesnik died Wednesday morning at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township, Mich. - four days after the 35-year-old father of two suffered critical head injuries in a car accident in Pittsfield Township.
Retired Michigan men's swimming coach Jon Urbanchek, who recruited the Butler, Pa., native to Ann Arbor, was in the hospital room Tuesday afternoon with the family when Namesnik was given the sacrament of anointing of the sick, formerly known as last rites, by a Catholic priest.
Namesnik competed at the University of Michigan and Club Wolverine in 1988-96 before serving as Urbanchek's assistant until 2004, when the head coach retired.
Namesnik was critically injured in a traffic accident Saturday morning as he drove to practice in Ypsilanti, Mich., where he coaches the Wolverine Aquatics swim club.
He was placed in a drug-induced coma to help relieve pressure on his brain. After a scan revealed a lack of brain activity, Urbanchek said Namesnik's family made the decision to take him off life support after his organs were prepared for donation.
"We had a beautiful closure," Urbanchek said. "He was part of my life for 18 years, and now he'll live in other people - especially his big heart.
"From now on, we'll celebrate his life because that's what he would have wanted."
Namesnik is married to Kirsten Namesnik, a lecturer in U-M's Department of Statistics. They have two children.
Namesnik was one of the world's top swimmers when he competed for Club Wolverine, winning back-to-back Olympic silver medals in the 400-meter individual medley at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Games.
His most famous race occurred against fellow Wolverine Tom Dolan at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where Dolan edged Namesnik for the gold medal in the 400 IM final.
"However hard it might be in our own lives to deal with this, I feel so much right now for his kids," Dolan said Wednesday of Austin, 4, and Madison, 2. "I will always remember that he and I shared a very special time in our lives."
Michigan grad Chris Thompson credited Namesnik for helping him win the bronze medal in the men's 1,500 at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when Namesnik was an assistant coach at U-M and Club Wolverine.
"He had an amazing influence on me," Thompson said.
Though Namesnik was known for his quiet intensity, Urbanchek said there was a lighthearted side to him as well.
When Urbanchek was recruiting Namesnik, Namesnik went in on a joke concocted by Mike Barrowman, a U-M grad and 1992 Olympic gold medalist in the 200 breaststroke.
On the day Urbanchek expected Namesnik to commit to Michigan, Namesnik phoned the coach and told him: "I'm sorry. I'm going to Arizona State."
Just as Urbanchek, hiding his disappointment, was about to congratulate the swimmer on his decision, Namesnik blurted: "Just kidding!"
For the past two years, Namesnik coached age-group swimmers at the Wolverine Aquatics - a job he loved, friends said.
Known as "Coach Eric" to youngsters and "Snik" to most everyone else, Namesnik also wrote a column for the club's monthly newsletter. In one of his articles, Namesnik said his goal was for the Wolverine Aquatics to become "the model competitive swimming club in the state of Michigan."
"You could see the positive effect that he had on these kids," said Jim Lutz, former men's and women's swim coach at Michigan State. "I know a couple of kids who swim in Ann Arbor, and one of the parents called me the other night in tears. A class act is a person who finds a way to make people around him better. That's what Eric did."
In past newsletters, a notable quotation sometimes followed Namesnik's column - including this one, from a year ago:
"Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men."
Avid Fan of:
Iguana, Biscuit, Pim Pim, the ledge that is Rafter! and my new love Nole!
Other Notable non-tennis supportees: Aaron Peirsol, LIVERPOOL, Kimi 'World Champ' Raikkonen, Thorkildsen, Adam Scott and many more......
and proud to be a morgette & mattiholic!!!