Robert J. H. Kiphuth

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Robert Kiphuth
Born (1890-11-17)November 17, 1890
Tonawanda, New York
Died January 7, 1967(1967-01-07) (aged 76)
Occupation Swimming Coach

Robert John Herman Kiphuth (November 17, 1890 – January 7, 1967)[1] was born in Tonawanda, New York and is best known for his 41-year career as head coach of the Yale University men's swim team, from 1918 to 1959. During his tenure with Bulldogs swimming and diving, he amassed a record of 528 wins to only 12 losses, along with four NCAA titles (1942, 1944, 1951, 1953),[2] earning him a reputation for being the winningest coach in history.

Kiphuth also served as the head coach for multiple U.S. Olympic swimming teams (both men and women, depending on the year). For a few years near the end of his career, he doubled as Yale's athletic director,[3] a job he eventually left to return his focus to coaching. He was largely responsible for the modern sport of swimming, which he shaped by introducing such innovations (now standard practices) as dryland workouts[4] and interval training.

From 1951 to 1961, Kiphuth was the publisher of Swimming World Magazine.

Kiphuth was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson on December 6, 1963. He had been chosen to receive the award by President John F. Kennedy (President Kennedy also received the Medal of Freedom, posthumously, at the same ceremony).[5][6]

Since 1968, the high-point award at the USA's Swimming National Championships has been named in his honor (the "Kiphuth Award").[7]

In 1965 he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.[4]


  1. ^ Kiphuth's entry at
  2. ^ Yale marks 50th anniversary of historic streak by Chelsea Janes, Yale Sports Publicity. Published 2011-02-04; retrieved 2012-06-12.
  3. ^ Robert J.H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool and Practice Pool in Payne Whitney Gym, from; retrieved 2012-06-12.
  4. ^ a b Kiphuth's entry from the website of the International Swimming Hall of Fame (; retrieved 2012-06-12.
  5. ^ Kiphuth's ride to the Medal of Freedom (part 1 of 2) by Chuck Warner, Swimming World Magazine. Published 2012-06-04; retrieved 2012-06-12.
  6. ^ Kiphuth's ride to the Medal of Freedom (part 2 of 2) by Chuck Warner, Swimming World Magazine. Published 2012-06-12; retrieved 2012-06-12.
  7. ^ Awards and Honors (p.133) published by USA Swimming in 2009; retrieved 2012-06-12.