Don Watson, a longtime swimming and water polo coach, who helped lead the Pirates to 19 state championships over his 30-year career at Orange Coast College, passed away Monday evening following a nine-year bout with stomach cancer. He was 59.
Watson began his OCC coaching career in 1980 as a part-time instructor and eventually became a full-time coach for the Pirates in 1989. As head coach of the women's swim team, he helped guide the Pirates to 15 state championships since 1983.
In dual-meet competition, Watson's Pirates compiled an astounding 168-8 record, winning 23 conference titles. From 1983-1998, the Pirates had won 126 consecutive dual meets before finally falling to Riverside on March 6, 1998.
As the men's swim coach, Watson guided the Pirates to eight conference titles (eight straight from 1987-1994), three state championships (1991, 1992, 1994) and was an assistant coach to three more state titles in 2006, 2007, 2009. Much like the women's team, the OCC men's team was nearly unbeatable during the late 1980s and early 90s as the Pirates won 49 straight dual-meet contests from 1989-1994.