Alan Ford (swimmer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Alan Ford
Personal information
Full name Alan Robert Ford
National team  United States
Born (1923-12-07)December 7, 1923
Panama Canal Zone, Panama
Died November 3, 2008(2008-11-03) (aged 84)
Sarasota, Florida
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg)
Sport Swimming
Strokes Freestyle
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 in London, 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 U.S. 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.[1] Ford became known as the "human fish," an unofficial title he took over from Weissmuller.[1] This performance was unequaled for eight years.[1] 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.[1]

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.[1]

Ford was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an "Honor Swimmer" in 1966.[2] 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.[3]

His swimming talents can still be seen in the 1940s film, Blue Winners.[4]

Ford died of emphysema on November 3, 2008 in Sarasota, Florida; he was 84 years old.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bruce Weber, "Alan Ford, Top Freestyler in 1940s, Is Dead at 84," The New York Times (November 16, 2008). Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  2. ^ International Swimming Hall of Fame, Honorees, Alan Ford (USA). Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  3. ^ "Record Breakers . . . ISHOF Speaks With Alan Ford," Swimming World Magazine (April 4, 2007). Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  4. ^ watch

External links[edit]