Aug. 12, 2009
A celebration of life for Ron Johnson, former Arizona State University head swimming coach, has been set for 9 a.m., Saturday, August 15 at the Ventana Room, located on the second floor of ASU's Memorial Union. The following day, a swimming workout held in Johnson's memory will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, attendees can share any stories or memories of Johnson.
Johnson, who passed away last weekend, served as ASU's men's swimming head coach for 18 years (1976-1993) and earned a winning record of 114-50. Within two years as head coach, the Sun Devils cracked the top-20 nationally and had its first All-American, Blake Johnson, who placed third at the 1977 NCAA Championships in the 400 IM.
The men's program finished in the top 10 six times under Johnson. The team reached a school-high sixth place finish in 1982 and the following year Johnson was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. He additionally served as the women's co-coach with Mona Plummer when the 1977 and 1978 women's team won the AIAW national titles. Both he and Plummer were named Co-Coach of the Year in 1978-79 by the National Women's Swimming Coaches Association.
Johnson's Sun Devil athletes earned over 100 All-American honors. He helped lead Andy Astbury to the 500 freestyle NCAA individual title in 1982. Johnson coached another NCAA individual champion a year later as Mike Orn took the 200 free title.
As the director of the Mexican National competitive swimming program, Johnson served as Mexico's head coach for the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. Johnson's swimmers found success at the Summer Olympic Games as 27 of his former Sun Devil athletes have been Olympic finalists and 14 of those have left the Olympics with a medal.
In 2007, Johnson was inducted into both the ASU Sports Hall of Fame and into the Masters Swimming Hall of Fame. As a Masters swimmer, he broke over 50 world records.