Former Olympian and Bay Area swim coach died of accidental drowning

The death of former Olympian and renowned Bay Area swim coach Richard Thornton has been determined to be an accidental drowning.

An investigation into Thornton's death concluded that the 65-year-old died in an accidental seawater drowning, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Thornton died at the popular Santa Cruz surf spot, The Hook, on Jan. 4.

Before the release of Thornton's autopsy report, his daughter, Kirra Thornton, took to social media to clarify misconceptions surrounding her father's death. She said that Thornton was entering the water for surfing when he died. She clarified that her father did not die in a surfing accident.


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The celebrated swimmer was a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic swim team. However, he did not compete due to the U.S. boycott of the summer games in Moscow.

Recognized as a prominent figure in the California swimming community, Thornton had served as the head coach of San Ramon Valley Aquatics for several years.