Albert Wiggins

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Albert Wiggins
Personal information
Full name Albert Marcus Wiggins, Jr.
Nationality  United States
Born (1935-05-27)May 27, 1935
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died June 1, 2011(2011-06-01) (aged 76)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight 128 lb (58 kg)
Sport Swimming
Stroke(s) Backstroke, butterfly, freestyle
College team Ohio State University

Albert Marcus Wiggins, Jr. (May 27, 1935 – June 1, 2011) was the first American swimmer to win Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championships in three strokes: butterly, backstroke and freestyle. He set four world records in the 100-meter and 100-yard butterfly and in total won eight AAU titles. He also participated in the 1956 Summer Olympics and finished seventh in the 100-meter backstroke event.[1] Although he was recognized as a world top medley swimmer, this event became Olympic only in 1964.[2]


Wiggins was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of vice-president of Westinghouse Air Brake Company. He attended the Allderdice High School and then the Ohio State University where he trained under the 1952 Olympic coach Mike Peppe. Although he was tall and well built, Wiggins was shortsighted from young age and wore glasses; he therefore avoided sports requiring physical contact and chose swimming instead. He started training at a club at age 13. Although he was interested in backstroke, this discipline was then dominated by Yoshi Oyakawa, which led Wiggins to explore other styles.[2]

Wiggins retired from competitions at age 22 to pursue a career in law, and, after graduating from the Harvard Law School, returned to Pittsburgh to work at Reed Smith Shaw & McClay. He was married, but divorced in the early 1970s and remarried Hollis Wiggins, a colleague from Reed Smith Shaw & McClay. The couple established a private firm and worked in the field of tax and estate law. Wiggins retired from practicing law in 2001. He continued to swim through most of his life, mostly in his private pool, but avoided masters competitions, as he had no time for serious preparation and would not participate for leisure. He died in Pittsburgh, aged 76, from a tear in the aorta after a morning swim. He was survived by his wife, sister Marge Hanley, and three children: daughters Susan Wiggins and Rhiana Wiggins from the first marriage, and son David from the second marriage.[2]

In 1994, Wiggins was inducted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an "Honor Swimmer."[3]

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