Mark Taylor, who helmed University of Houston's swimming program for nearly a decade, died Friday evening of an apparent heart attack in Austin, according to the University of Houston Athletics Department. He was 50 years old.
"This is a sad and difficult day. We lost a family member today," said Mack Rhoades, UH's director of athletics, over the weekend. "Mark was a terrific coach and even better person. He will be truly missed by the many lives he touched."
Taylor, a Roseburg, Oregon native, was hired aboard by UH in 2002 after spending time as an assistant at Arizona State University. Previous to his time at ASU, he completed numerous coaching stints abroad for international swim teams in Denmark and Great Britain.
During his nine seasons as UH head skipper, he led the Cougars to seven top-30 NCAA finishes. Houston's performance in the 2009 college championships -- the team placed seventeenth, the program's highest finish since 1986 -- earned Taylor the 2009 Conference USA coach of the year award.
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Taylor, who also coached in the 1993 European Championships and the 1996 Olympics for Lithuania, is survived by his wife Lorraine and sons Troy and Zane. Funeral arrangements are pending.