Tom Oak Obituary (1950 – 2021) – Salt Lake City, UT

Tom Oak

1950 ~ 2021

Tom was born in May 1950 in Sacramento, CA as the only child of Judy and John Eiche. He died on November 9, 2021 due to respiratory acidosis. Tom grew up in SLC, UT. He went to Lincoln Jr. High and South High School. At South, he was an Honor Roll student and got straight A’s last year. He was an All-State swimming first team selection in both his junior and senior years. He set 3 state records as a senior and still holds most of South Highs swimming school records due to Souths closure. He set the Utah State record in 100yd Butterfly with a time of 56.2 seconds without the benefit of shaving. He won the first Utah High School Aqua pentathlon as a senior. Tom was also the captain of the swimming team. His high school coach told people, “He did not know how to swim the butterfly until he was a sophomore.”

He graduated from the U of U, where he was captain of the swimming and water polo teams. In 1970, he became Utah’s first All-American Butterfly swimmer by sending a 1: 56,797 in 200 Aircraft (in height). He placed first or second in Butterfly in the conference all 4 years. His senior year, he set school records and won both Butterfly events at the WAC conference. He qualified for the NCAA National Championships every 4 years and swam 6 different events. Thanks, Don Reddish. He was a 5-state regional AAU first-team water polo player.

Tom was an assistant swimming and water polo coach at U of U and trained High School swimming and water polo in Utah and Wyoming. He coached 5 state championship teams, high school-all-Americans in swimming and water polo and dozens of individual state championship swimmers and state record holders. He was the coach of the year several times and helped teach his athletes about the dedication and the hard work it takes to become champions in the pool and in life. He turned mediocre or underperforming programs into state championship teams in 2 different states. He founded the Eagle Aquatic Team’s age group swimming program in 1977.

Tom swam competitively in the Masters Swimming program, setting dozens of Utah Masters Swimming age group records. He swam 40 National Top Ten times in his age group in 12 different events and was a National Champion in 100 yd. Backstroke.

He was a leader and strived to help others. He was chairman of two Condo HOAs, high school swim coaches’ associations, Utah State AAU State Water Polo Association Chairman, met director and head of WAC swimming championships and Utah State High School swimming championships. He was the Utah Masters Swimming Chairman and served as registrar for many years. He sat on the Steiner Aquatic Center’s advisory board for 3 years. In 1975, he organized and ran the first Utah Water Polo summer league for high school and college players. He taught over 2000 people swimming skills. He helped 2 people with CPR and made many water assists at swimming pools as a lifeguard. One December, he happened to hear screams from two little boys who fell through the ice of an apartment swimming pool and could not get out. He pulled them out as no one else was nearby. Tom worked for Salt Lake County for 30 years and helped the elderly stay in their homes by providing over 430,000 meals to the Meals on Wheels program. He had a wonderful best friend for many years, his Dachshund Rowdy.

He always read (2 to 3 hours a day), exercised, learned new things and traveled. He made training a part of every day. He had a great sense of humor and liked to make people smile. He found ways to constantly try to give back to the community. He supported a number of animal rights and environmental protection organizations, volunteered and was concerned about saving the environment and reducing its impact on the planet. Think globally and act locally. He shrank when people idled in their cars and used way too much water in the gym.

Hawaii, Africa, the Bahamas, Lake Tahoe, California, Germany, France, Mexico and Canada were some of the many places he traveled to. He loved warm beaches and enjoyed a swimming pool.

The Beach Boys made a huge impact in his life with their songs and messages in their lyrics. See the lyrics “Spring break” and “Just calm baby”. To remember Tom, save for retirement and start / continue to train for the rest of your life. Tom donated his body to U of U Medical School.

Tom wanted to thank the people who helped him throughout his life, especially schoolteachers and coaches, teammates, former swimmers, colleagues and friends.

At Tom’s request, no funeral or formal celebration of life will be held. Instead of flowers, etc., the executors of his property humbly propose charitable donations in his name to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary World Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy or a similar organization.

Published by The Salt Lake Tribune from November 24 to November 28, 2021.

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