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Monmouth swim coach Tom Burek dies of COVID-19

Monmouth College announced their swim coach Tom Burek passed away Saturday, December 12 from...
Monmouth College announced their swim coach Tom Burek passed away Saturday, December 12 from complications due to COVID-19 at the age of 62.(Monmouth College)
Published: Dec. 13, 2020 at 3:10 PM CST
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MONMOUTH, Ill. (KWQC) - Monmouth College announced their swim coach Tom Burek passed away Saturday, December 12 from complications due to COVID-19 at the age of 62.

School officials say Burek was the second-longest serving swim coach in the school’s history. Before he was the head coach at Monmouth College, Burek was director of aquatics in 2013, spending two seasons as the assistant coach, according to officials.

“Everyone in the Monmouth College family is broken-hearted at the passing of our good friend and colleague Tom Burek,” says Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt. “Tom’s work as a swim coach, both at the college and in the community, touched so many lives in such a positive way. Tom always sought to lift others up. A profoundly good person has left us far too soon.”

Monmouth’s men’s and women’s swim teams won 12 Midwest Conference titles and qualified for the NCAA Division II swimming and diving championships four times while Burek was the coach.

“Monmouth swimmers earned 57 Midwest Conference academic all-conference awards under Burek, and three times his teams won College Swimming Coaches Association of America National Academic Team Awards. Rewriting the Monmouth record books became a habit for Burek’s teams, which currently hold 37 men’s and women’s records,” according to the press release.

Burek’s student and now assistant swim coach Erin Lafary says her former coach “had a profound impact on those he worked with and will forever leave his legacy with the Monmouth swimming program.”

“Coach Burek had a huge heart for all of his swimmers,” says Lafary. “He cared for each and every swimmer as if they were his own. His laugh and smile were contagious and always turned frowns quickly to smiles. You always knew where Coach was on a pool deck full of swimmers because you could spot his bright yellow Crocs. Better yet, you could hear him say his well-known ‘goggle up!’ from miles away.”

A retired master sergeant, Burek served the Illinois State Police for 23 years. He also coached several swim clubs in the region and had assisted other college swim programs.

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