Sadly, SME Swim Performance Consultant Hank Krusen passed away on Sunday, May 13th. A friend, coach, and mentor to generations of Kansas City swimmers, Hank had worked with the Lancer’s Boys team the last two years, helping them to their two most recent League and State titles.
Hank came to Shawnee Mission East after a long and successful career at Olathe Northwest, where he started the program in 2003 and remained as coach until 2016. Prior to that he had coached with Kansas City Blazers Swim Club and Homestead Country Club.
“He was a great coach and even a better mentor to the team,” said Junior PJ Spencer. “It just made us feel so good that we were able to make him as happy as he made us these past years,” referring to what Hank himself called “His Dream Job” as performance consultant with the boys team at SM East.
Hank was a fixture at practice and during the meets, despite the challenges his health issues posed while at SME. He focused his efforts with the JV and younger Varsity swimmers, helping them to refine their technique, to develop their racecraft, and to push themselves harder than they thought possible during practice and meets.
As Head Coach and longtime friend Wiley Wright describes, “Hank was a great teacher and leader that everyone could learn something from. We were very lucky to have him with the program the last two years.”
During practice or at a meet, Hank would station himself at the end of the pool just off to the side of the starting blocks, a calm presence, matched by a watchful eye that missed nothing. After a race, rather than lecture or criticize, he engaged each swimmer, asking questions, helping them develop the tools to analyze their own race, while offering pointers in technique or strategy that they could then reflect on.
His work with the freshman and sophomores this year resulted in dramatic improvements, both in technique and times for numerous swimmers, many of whom are poised to be part of the state team next year and will help carry on the tradition of achievement by SME Boys Swim & Dive.
It’s fitting for his legacy that in his last meet as coach, his team secured the Kansas 6A State Championship.
“Hank Krusen was more then a coach to everyone he came in contact with. He is the definition of a REAL person. From bringing out the best in people, to so eloquently letting you be yourself and making sure you were damn proud of it,” said Matt Christian, a team parent who swam for Hank at Homestead Country Club while growing up in the 1970s and 80s, and whose son Brian, a senior on the team, qualified for state this year under Hank’s tutelage.
The team embraced Hank, and he embraced the team. We’re saddened by his passing.
We want to express our condolences to his wife Betsy and his entire family. Arrangements are pending.
Comments are open for this post. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and remembrances.
SME Harbinger: Hank Krusen Fulfills His Dream Job