At 17 he swam faster than Mark Spitz for a world record, Andy Coan dies at 59
Andy Coan, a world-record swimming champ, led a life that could make for one of sports’ greatest stories, enduring victories and valleys alike.
Coan, born March 4, 1958, in Fort Lauderdale, died in Boca Raton Monday after battling liver cancer. He was 59.
“No one can say they’ve gone higher; and no can say they’ve fallen any lower,” Coan reflected in 1988 at age 30 in the Miami Herald. Just 13 years earlier, in 1975 at age 17, as a junior at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Coan set a world record in the 100-meter freestyle. His time, 51.11, bested the 51.12 Mark Spitz swam at the 1972 Munich Olympics where he won seven golds.
In 1975, Coan, coached by the late Jack Nelson, also set Pine Crest records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle sprints at 20.19 and 43.99, respectively — records that still stand and times that would have won the 2016 state titles.