Alan Ford (swimmer)
|Full name||Alan Robert Ford|
December 7, 1923|
Panama Canal Zone, Panama
|Died||November 3, 2008
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Weight||170 lb (77 kg)|
|College team||Yale University|
Alan Robert Ford (December 7, 1923 – November 3, 2008) was an American competition swimmer, Olympic medalist, and former world record-holder in two events. Ford won a silver medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics and was the first person to swim the 100-yard freestyle in under 50 seconds.
Born in the Panama Canal Zone, he moved to Sarasota, Florida from Midland, Michigan. Ford attended U.S schools in the Panama Canal Zone, Mercersburg Academy, and graduated from Yale University with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1945. He served as an ensign in the United States Navy during the final months of World War II.
During his prep and university swimming careers, Ford held numerous national and world records. While at Yale, he trained under swimming coach Robert J. H. Kiphuth, an innovator who introduced dry-land exercises and interval training. Ford broke Johnny Weissmuller's 17-year-old world record in the 100-yard freestyle. In 1944, Ford became the first person to swim 100 yards freestyle in less than 50 seconds, swimming's equivalent of running a sub-four-minute mile in track. Ford became known as the "human fish," an unofficial title he took over from Weissmuller. This performance was unequaled for eight years. During his senior year at Yale University, he was the captain of Yale Bulldogs swimming and diving team.
In 1944, when Ford was in the prime of his swimming career, the 1944 Summer Olympics were cancelled because of World War II. That year he won national college titles in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle and the 150-yard backstroke. He came out of retirement after the war and returned to New Haven to train with Kiphuth. He had lost as much as 25 pounds of muscle and hadn't been in a pool for three years. After six months of training, and quitting smoking during that time, he made the U.S. Olympic Team and won a silver medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.
After his graduation from Yale, Ford went on to become a mechanical engineer. Ford designed and managed the construction of oil refineries, chemical, ore, and food processing plants as well as petroleum and chemical storage facilities in the United States and abroad.
Ford was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1966. At the ceremonies, when Ford was introduced, someone in the audience booed loudly. The crowd broke into laughter when they realized it was Johnny Weissmuller.
His swimming talents can still be seen in the 1940s film, Blue Winners.
- List of Olympic medalists in swimming (men)
- List of Yale University people
- World record progression 100 metres freestyle
- World record progression 4 × 100 metres freestyle relay
- Alan Ford – Olympic athlete profile at Sports-Reference.com
- Alan Ford (USA) – Honor Swimmer profile at International Swimming Hall of Fame