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Eric Namesnik, 35; swimmer won silver medals in Olympics

YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Eric Namesnik, who won silver medals in swimming at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, died Wednesday of injuries suffered in a car accident last week. He was 35.

Mr. Namesnik was critically injured in the Jan. 7 accident in Pittsfield Township, which was caused by icy conditions, according to USA Swimming. He was the only occupant of the car, which spun out of control and was struck by another vehicle.

He had been in a medically induced coma to reduce swelling around his brain before he died at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.

Mr. Namesnik won silver medals in the 400-meter individual medley at the 1992 Barcelona Games and four years later in Atlanta. He became the first American to swim under 4 minutes, 15 seconds in the four-stroke medley event and lowered the American record four times. He was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1991 and 1993.

He also won a bronze medal in the 400 individual medley at the 1994 world championships and two silvers at the 1991 world meet.

''We are overwhelmed by the news of Eric's death," said Ron Van Pool, USA Swimming president. ''He'll always be remembered for his resilience, especially during these past few days when he fought with everything he could."

Mr. Namesnik, who answered to his nickname Snik, was in his second season as a volunteer assistant coach at Eastern Michigan.

He swam for the University of Michigan from 1989 to 1993, then spent seven years as an assistant with the men's team, coaching 11 Olympians and helping the Wolverines win three Big Ten championships.

''He was the son I never had," retired Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek said. ''What he did for Michigan is unmeasurable. It's not just how fast he swam, but the good person he was, the character."

A native of Butler, Pa., Mr. Namesnik leaves his wife, Kirsten, and two children, Austin and Madison.

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