Ken Lindgren dies at 75; water polo coach

Ken Lindgren, a former Cal State Long Beach coach who was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1997, died Friday at his Huntington Beach home after a heart attack. He was 75.

His death was announced by Cal State Long Beach, where he was head coach of the men's water polo team from 1975 to 1998.


Lindgren coached 34 All-American team members and eight Olympians, including Doug Kimbell and Kyle Kopp, who went on to coach the U.S. women's national team at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.

He also served as a U.S. national team assistant coach, helping lead the American men's team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and the U.S. women's team at the 2000 Sydney Games to silver medals.

Lindgren "was a Long Beach icon," Cal State Long Beach water polo coach Gavin Arroyo said Monday. "Why we get a chance at some of the talent that we get … is because of the history Ken established. He held the standard for 24 years."

During his 24 seasons at Long Beach, Lindgren won more than 330 games and led the 49ers to seven NCAA appearances, including a runner-up finish in 1981.

He was known for his ability to attract talented players despite a limited budget.

"We don't have a lot of money to offer in scholarships," he told The Times in 1983, "so we have to do a lot of bush-beating to find good players who want to come here."

After leaving Cal State Long Beach in 1998, he was assistant coach of the U.S. women's team for two years. He returned to Cal State Long Beach in 2006 as interim head coach for the women's water polo program.

Born in 1938, Lindgren was captain of the water polo team at Whittier High School, which he attended from 1954 to 1957. At Cal State Long Beach, he was most valuable player on the 1959 state championship team. He graduated in 1960 and taught mathematics for more than three decades in addition to coaching.