clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Where are they now? Darwin Killpack

His schedule was dawn to midnight six of seven days a week until Darwin Killpack just walked away.

Killpack suffered a coaching burnout. He was a workaholic. But it took him 26 years (1961-62 to 1987) to ever see the sunlight. And, in between, he became a coaching legend. His Cyprus men's and women's swimming teams captured 20 championships. He was the dominator. His teams won 323 meets and lost only 37 times. And he coached 16 prep All-Americans. From 1975 to 1982, his Pirates captured eight straight state crowns.

That wasn't all. His and Lynn Christofferson's water polo teams also won 10 state championships.

His teams were so dominating that in 1978 the other swimming coaches decided to split the state swimming from one big meet to 4A and 3A events.

The 63-year-old former coach was Utah's first swimming All-America, in 1958, in the 220-yard and 1,500-meter freestyle events.

"I guess basically, my work pattern was set up after my own coach, Don Reddish's," explained Killpack. "He was a man who required a lot of work. Don was a good friend to his swimmers but demanded a lot from them. He coached swimmers a lot longer than I did, too, for sure."

Before he arrived at Cyprus, the Pirates had never won a state championship. They had captured one second. But Killpack developed the age group programs — his feeder system — and of course, his swimmers started each day at 5 a.m.

"In most cases, the key to our success was the depth of the program and the fact was we worked harder than anyone else. We demanded a lot more," said Killpack. "We had a lot of talent in the program. Other reason for our success was our tradition. It was always good going into a state swimming meet knowing we had won before. That was like adding points to our total before the meet even began. Our kids were used to winning."

WHAT WERE HIS GREATEST MEMORIES? "Of course, you love the winning aspect of coaching and every state championship we won, I still cherish those moments," Killpack pointed out. "Don't ask Reddish if winning isn't important and tell him it's how you play the game. Don't go to a lawyer and doctor with that philosophy. Don't kid yourself, winning was very important to me. It did great things for the kids. At the same time, I have marveled in their dedication to the classroom, and the successes they have become in life."

WHAT IS HE DOING NOW? Killpack is retired but still works a couple days a week for Checker Auto. "Just enough time to earn a couple bucks to supplement my income," he said, laughing. "I still marvel until this day that most people, including my wife, Max, call me coach. Only my mother, brothers and sisters call me Darwin."

Although he isn't involved on a daily basis with the Cyprus swimming program, he still keeps a watchful eye on their state meets, because the current Pirate coach, Joe Periera, another former Ute and member of the 1980 Olympic Team, is married to his daughter, Kristen.

"He has become a great coach, and Cyprus has won the last two 4A championships under his guidance. So the Cyprus tradition is continuing. That makes me very happy."

But Killpack can take great pride in establishing the tradition.

Killpack has never lost his winning appetite, either. Don't knock at his Magna dwelling and ask him for a pool game. He still works all the angles. The years have mellowed him, but not to the point where he can stand to lose.


E-mail: torch@qwest.com