March 27, 2004 by

Matthew Gribble


Categories: Sports

Matthew Gribble, an Olympic swimmer who once held the world record in the 100-meter butterfly, died on March 21 in an automobile accident. He was 41.

Gribble and his 3 1/2-year-old son, Trahern, were returning home from the Miami-Dade County Fair when another driver hit their car head-on. Gribble died at the scene; his son was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital and later listed in stable condition.

An All-American at the University of Miami, Gribble won two NCAA titles and still holds the school record in the 100-meter fly with a time of 47.26. During his freshman year, he was selected for the Olympic swim team, but did not compete because the United States boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games.

Gribble was a member of the 400-meter medley relay team that won the gold medal at the 1982 World Games in Ecuador. The following year, he set and held the world record for the 100-meter butterfly for 326 days.

After winning three gold medals at the 1983 Pan American Games, Gribble made the 1984 U.S. swim team. He attended the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but suffered a back injury and never competed past the preliminary round.

A financial officer at Hasbro, Gribble was a member of the University of Miami Hall of Fame.

[Update – June 2, 2005: The corner of SW 117th Ave. and 128 St. was renamed Matthew O. Gribble Street in honor of the late University of Miami swimmer and Olympian.]

31 Responses to Matthew Gribble

  1. Kurt & Linda Wienants

    I swam with Matt at the U of Miami from 1981 thru 1984, and he was an absolute inspiration, the very hardest worker one could imagine. He elevated everyone around him to succeed. I will miss you Matt! Kurt

  2. guadalupe gonzalez (sister in law)

    Mathew was one of a kind, a unique guy. I am sorry this happened Mathew I am going to miss you I will always have you in my heart and be there for your son. Thank you for allowing me to be your son’s God Mother that was a very nice thing on your part and I would never forget that.

  3. Lindley

    I swam with Matt and his siblings throughout my childhood in Miami (Hurricanes). Matt truly had the most unique smile and sense of humor. I guess that after all these years it ‘s amazing that I can still remember his laugh. My thoughts go out to his family. I’ll always be so proud that I swam with him.
    Lindley Peterson Fleury
    Pinehurst NC

  4. matthew gribble

    matthew was very special to me because we hAve the same first and second name (THIS IS NO JOKE!!)
    I wonder if there is any relation? do you know Jack gribble? he was my great grand father.

  5. Tori Hames Picciochi

    I swam with Matt and his sister for a number of years at the U of M Hurricane Swim Club. Matt was a great guy and a lot fun. I remember when he made the Olympic team in 1980 and how dissapointing it was when the US boycotted. My deepest condolences to his son and family.

  6. Becky Farinas

    Matthew was my brother-in-law. He was always so humble, never made any mention about his accomplishments. He was a real person.
    I am going to miss him so much. Everytime I see my nephew, I just cannot believe what has happened to him. Matthew taught him so many things, to be a champion. My nephew is a sweet boy, and he is a great boy, but he misses his dad so much. He is still very young, but I hope that God gives him strength to follow on his fathers footstep, and one day be an Olympian in his father’s honor. We are in an effort to have a Street here in Florida named after him. If you want to encourage this effort please write.
    to: Katy Sorenson
    Stephen P. Clark Center
    111 NW 1 Street
    Suite 200
    Miami, Florida 33128-5218

  7. Michael Webb

    I was Matt’s roommate in the early 90’s. He was a humble guy who never told me about what he had done. He was a fun guy to be around.
    I’m sad that I lost touch with him over these years but am happy to know that he had found happiness in a wife and child.

  8. Lauren Gribble

    Matt is my uncle and wonderful one at that. matt loved his neices and nephews so much. He would always pick on me but i know that was his way of pushing me to succeed in life and his way of saying he loved me. I love matt so much and i miss him so much. It is still hard for me to read about him and look at his pictures. Matt loved kids, when he would come and visit the first thing he would do was come and pick me and my brother up to go do something fun before he would even drop his bags off. There is so many great things i can say about Matt. He gave me the chance to meet a wonderful woman (Jeanie) and my cousin Trehurne. I am so glad he at least had the chance to have a son, what he always wanted, and i know Trey misses his dad, i do also, but i know Trey will carry on in his footsteps. Its been over a year and i still can’t beleive that hes gone. I love you Uncle Matt, you are still in my heart and always will be, i miss you a lot. I can still hear his voice and laugh like i just saw him yesterday, and the miami word right and the way he said it. And he will be with me in my heart and dreams forever. matt was a great person he never would talk about his accomplishments he was not a selfish person at all. He was always giving and giving, he didnt care if he got anything back. He is very loved and missed.

  9. matt gribble

    firstly this is not a joke!
    hi my name is matt gribble i am very sorry to hear about matthews death. i was just wondering if there was any relationship between myself and him. do u know (originaly jill gribble but now jill okeefe)? she is my grandmother she married jack gribble the man i was named after (matthew jack gribble) also could u plz let me know if u know anything about david gribble my father. if u do know anything please contact me i am very interested
    (my email is

  10. Matthew Gribble

    As matthewgribble said, I too have the same name, I never knew about him, until I searched for my name on the internet, I’m sure that he was a great Gribble.

  11. Kathy Shrader Hutchins

    I remember when the Gribbles first arrived to Miami at the University of Miami Hurricane swim club back in the early 70’s. All of them had beautiful blonde hair and dark skin and were the nicest people you could ever meet. I didn’t know Matt very well, but knew his brother, David, and competed with his sister Lenore. I haven’t seen them in many years, but had heard about Matt’s tragic death on the news. I know that it has been almost 2 years, but I’m sure his memory will live on forever. (

  12. Matt Gribble

    I am Matt Gribble!
    It is a sad day to hear of the loss of a Matthew Gribble. I did not know Matt Gribble the swimmer, however, it seems he set the bar high for achievement and someone to look up to.
    It is great to hear there are other Matthew Gribble’s (I am Matthew Thomas Gribble) out there hoping for the same.

  13. Tony & Sandy Novak

    As friends of John and Barbara (Matts parents) we gathered weekly for Bridge in Richmond,Texas. We all shared in the joys of Matty’s successes and the pains. Raised to daughters who swam through High School with Matty as in inspiration.
    God Bless and keep his memory alive and bright.


    my name is daniel gribble I was wondering if i am related my dad’s name is Jack Gribble he lives on Whidby Island and I live in Olympia wa

  15. Brittany selts

    Hi i didn’t know matt gribble but my mom did. (michelle parker)They swam on the same team together(Sheeler-winton)and they dated in middle school.Matts coach taught me how to mom was sad when he died.

  16. Michael Tinsley

    I had occasion to be in Miami last week. As I drove through some of my old haunts, I passed the corner that now bears his name. It struck me because I was Matt’s friend and immediate next door neighbor. Matt’s family moved in from Texas and was instantly known for thier Blonde hair and southern accent. Matt got me involved in Sheeler Winton Swimming and taught me to jump on trampoline. I was nine at the time and still remember the fun we had. After I moved away, we lost touch. I’m sad to see that he has passed on now. He was a great guy. My sincere regards to his family.

  17. Kurt Lynn

    Matt was a great swimmer who inspired many of us in Gold Coast Swimming to excel. I swam at Sheeler-Winton and remember him being brought up alot and seeing him at meets. I just learned of his loss, you will be missed.

  18. Tina Zipszer

    I swam at both the Sheeler Winton Swim club and at the Hurricanes with Matt. I don’t know if Matt knew who I was, but I sure knew who he was. He was a great swimmer and an inspiration to all swimmers he came in contact with. I just learned of his tragic death. May peace and comfort be with his family. You are missed by so many Matt!

  19. Don Fischer

    I am sorry to learn about Matts death. I wish the Gribble family well. They had always been kind, caring, generous and hospitable. The great years we spent together and the fun we had are always at the top of my mind. David old buddy I am so sorry.
    Don Fischer

  20. Jeanne Pouparina-Cabrera

    Today is March 21, 2008, im in a retail store
    walking through the aisles and there is a easter
    bunny in the store, I grabed Trahern’s hand and
    said lets take a picture, then a light bulb turned on in my mind. wait today is March 21, my goodness its been four years now, my eyes filled with tears
    The day before Matt died, I took trahern to get
    pictures taken with the easter bunny, so thats
    what triggered the taught and the memory
    We miss him alot,
    but I carry in my heart all the great times we
    shared together and I will love him for ever till
    the day I die, he was my everything
    god bless your soul today Matthew
    from your friend jeanne and son Trahern Gribble

  21. Susan Gribble

    Hi Jeanne
    I just read your post. I pray for you and Trahern daily. Hope you are all well. I don’t know your email address or I would have sent a message to you personally. If you happen to read this, my email is, please contact me. Cheri, Kristin, Lauren and Dainel miss you guys so much.
    Love always,

  22. Bonnee Bnker

    Hi Jeanne,
    You don’t know me, but I went to Palmetto Sr. High with Matt. As so many others, I was so sad when I heard of his passing.
    I am hoping that you read the posts on this blog.
    We are currently working on the 50th birthday celebration for the school and will be honoring our alumni. We would very much like to include Matt in our plans. Could you please contact me at so I can find out how to get in touch with you.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Bonnee Binker

  23. Kathie Kortering

    Just got off the phone with Tim McKee, and thought of days in Miami, which brought me to swimmers and Matt. Yes, Matt’s smile and sense of humor was unique. Life is short, live it!

  24. alice ( helmers ) miller

    With the 2008 Olympics starting soon, I looked
    on google to see what Matthew ( the only Olympian
    I knew ) was doing. I am so very sorry to hear
    of his passing. I went to Miami Palmetto Senior
    High school with he and his sister Lenore. ( I hope Lenore is doing well ). Please accept
    my deepest sympathy to your entire family…

    • Bob Arnold

      Sorry to inform you that sadly Lenore passed away just 2 years after Matt in 2006…Both were good friends, lived with Matt in the Gables, swam with both of them and Mark…so sad!

  25. John Evans

    For some reason I was thinking about Matt tonight. Maybe with the Olympics going on made me think about him. I came to know Matt at the age of 14 and saw him for the last time 29 years later with my son and his son at Coral Reef Park; just a short time before his passing. We were close friends for many years. Even though we went our separate ways, we always seemed to stay in touch. Matt was truly a very humble person-one of a kind. He was caring, genuine and sincere. He treated everyone the same. A true friend!!

  26. Doug D.

    I just watched Michael Phelps win his gold medals and for some reason I remembered Matt, after last seeing him at the UM around 1984. I went to Palmetto with Matt, to where he was a friendly guy and I believe it was English class that we sat next to each other and gave each other a hand. I then bumped into him again as a neighbor at the UM, we had each gone our ways – me in the Honors dorm and he in the swimmers’ dorm one building further away. The washing machines were only in their dorm so that is where I had many conversations with him and he considered me a friend. I considered him my connection to UM athletics and he always was so friendly towards me, even though I must have been quite a nerd. I had heard he had a swimming record and somewhere bumped into him again when he told me of a desk job he had gotten which took me by surprise since I knew his love for athletics. In any case, Matt, I wanted to see if I could find you on the internet and now I am so saddened, and thank you for your friendship. If I remembered you nearly 25 years later you can see that you made an everlasting impression and I am happy you lived a very exciting life filled with love and a family. Best wishes my friend and thanks again for the time you calmly helped me kick out the idiots who were putting grease and dirt on purpose into the washing machines. No one else cared but you just helped a friend out in a tight spot probably about to get his face kicked in. What a nice person you are. Have a happy afterlife from another friend you left behind. PS I never knew how extraordinary of a swimmer you were, congratulations. Doug

  27. Matthew gribble

    Well let’s just say how wonderful he is and I’ll miss him so much!! He was my uncle and his son trey (my cousin) is living with me and I tell him everyday to swim hard so we can both go to the olympics one day

  28. rob ulrich

    Matt was a great guy, he was my roommate from 1987 to 88, we had a ton of fun together, we met when we worked as stockbrokers. we played a lot of golf together, we always bet everytime we played, but never did a penny ever go from one person to another. I can think of quite a few great times we had from trips down to key west to hanging out on south beach. I do remember he would go through periods where he felt like all of the work that he put into the sport was a total waste and that he got”robbed” which obviously I couldnt agree more with the part about getting robbed, it was horrible thing. I miss Matt he was always great to talk to also I used to go down to Miami Dade Community College where he and a lot of other guys that he went to school with or just knew from the swimming community would work out and train, he was truly amazing to watch, he was by far the most talented one out there all of the other swimmers felt the same way I did, and they all like to watch his grace and style as he moved through the water. Its a terrible thing that he is no longer with us, I can only hope that there are bigger and better things in store for him, thanks for giving me the opprotunity to write something about a very cool guy.

  29. Becky

    Today is January 2023, and it is a new year. Matthew’s birthday will be March 21. The International Swimming Hall of Fame is accepting names, for their birthday commemorative page. Matthew was a great person, and his son Trahern Owen is very proud of his dad. His wish is to follow in his dsd footsteps. It is a financial feat and challenge.
    if you support to have Matthew Gribble be on the Birthday Commemorative, would you please write to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. It would be so nice.

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