BEMIDJI, Minn. – Lee Ahlbrecht, a name synonymous with Bemidji State University Swimming and Diving, died Wednesday in Hawaii, surrounded by his loving family.
Ahlbrecht coached BSU Swimming and Diving teams from 1968-1991, elevating the Beavers to a position of national prominence. His teams had a 150-49 win/loss record en rout to Northern Intercollegiate Conference championship or runner-up finishes to cap every year from 1969-1982. Twelve times his teams went on to finish among the top 10 in the country, which included finishing as high as fourth place at the national meet on four occasions.
During his tenure, his teams included 151 All-Americans, 69 All-American Honorable Mention awards, and 14 Academic All-American selections. In addition, seven former Beavers went on to compete at the Olympic Trials and four won individual national titles.
Ahlbrecht’s impact still ripples through pools around the country as countless former student-athletes have gone on to coach at the club, high school and collegiate levels.
The long-time coach’s impact on swimming, diving and athletics stretched far beyond Bemidji State. He was active as a NAIA Swimming and Diving Association Secretary, Vice President, President and championship meet manager. He was also an American Red Cross volunteer, a water safety instructor and lifeguard Instructor. In addition, from 1978-79 he served as a World Games diving committee member and participated in the international coaching exchange.
Ahlbrecht, the NAIA and CSCAA Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year, 1980 and NAIA and CSCAA Diving Coach of the Year in 1990, was inducted into the Minnesota State Swimming and Diving Coaches Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Bemidji State Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000.