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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Swimming & Diving

UH athletics mourns Hansel’s passing

The UH swimming and diving program lost one of its greatest supporters and founding fathers when former coach Phil Hansel passed away earlier this month at age 85.

While Hansel had not been part of the coaching staff for nearly 20 years, current coach Mark Taylor said Hansel’s support was still felt by both athletes and staff.

“Even though Coach Hansel was not involved in the day to day operations of the program he called and spoke with the staff almost on a daily basis,” Taylor said.

Hansel was always interested to know how “his Cougars” were doing, Taylor said.

“He wanted to know who we had coming in and how the training was going,” Taylor said. “He was always there to offer advice and give us his special take on different situations. He is already missed by all of us now working with the program.”

Hansel is considered the father of the University’s swimming and diving teams, which he helped found in 1957.

Hansel and his team secured many victories and stayed in the top realm of national swimming competitions, including 10 consecutive top-20 finishes.

Hansel was named Southwest Conference Swimming Coach of the Year three times during his coaching career. He was inducted into UH’s Hall of Honor in November 2008.

Hansel has also been inducted into the National Swimming Coaches and the Texas Swimming and Diving halls of fame.

“It will never be possible to replace a coach like Phil Hansel.  He was with the program for over 39 years,” Taylor said. “I have never met anyone who had a negative word to say about him as a coach or person.

“He will never be replaced, but set an example and reached heights that others will try and attain.”

Hansel was more involved than just bringing talent and trophies into the program.

“I spoke with Phil on almost a daily basis.  He acted like he was our No. 1 fan,” Taylor said. “We took him to as many of our home competitions as possible, and the current student athletes really enjoyed his company. He was sharp to the end and always was able to give great insight and help.

“I will really miss the opportunity to have those interactions with such a wonderful man.”

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