Former swimming coach Jon Urbanchek (left) and Brent Lang
Brent Lang, ’90, is a Michigan men’s swimming alumnus, a gold medal-winning Olympian, and a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Now he can count winning the NCAA Silver Anniversary award among his list of accomplishments.
The award is presented to only six former athletes a year, on the 25th anniversary of their graduation. Collegiate accomplishments are weighed with professional and civic contributions.
Lang originally swam backstroke and individual medley, but switched to freestyle when coach Jon Urbancheck asked. The team needed a fourth swimmer in the NCAA championship.
“I probably would’ve been a mediocre swimmer in backstroke and IM,” said Lang. “But I certainly wouldn’t have been an Olympian and certainly wouldn’t have been a national champion.”
After winning gold in the Seoul Olympics, Lang went on to found Vocera, a communications technology company. He has led the venture to become a publicly-traded enterprise with more than 380 employees.
Lang accepted the Silver Anniversary award on January 16 in at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.
“I knew I needed to keep a balance between athletics and academics,” said Lang. “That’s why this award means so much to me. It was the mission of what I set as my goal. I wanted to use swimming as a training ground and a pathway to the rest of my life.”
Accepting the award with him was Urbanchek, whom Lang identified as a father figure. “He was such a mentor–more probably out of the pool than in the pool.”
On his part, Urbanchek continues to support his former swimmer. When he was coaching, he saw the entire swimming team as “his 25 sons.”
“I told Brent it is more important what you accomplish 25 years after college. The records he had set at Michigan — they’re broken. Medals get tarnished, OK?”
Head over to MGoBlue to read the full story of accomplished alumnus Brent Lang.