Joe Verdeur

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Joe Verdeur
Joe Verdeur 1949.jpg
Verdeur in 1949
Personal information
Full nameJoseph Thomas Verdeur
National team United States
Born(1926-03-07)March 7, 1926
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.[1]
DiedAugust 6, 1991(1991-08-06) (aged 65)
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, U.S.
College teamLa Salle University

Joseph Thomas "Joe" Verdeur (March 7, 1926 – August 6, 1991) was an American competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder.


Verdeur was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had a sister, Theresa, and a brother, Edward. His mother was Polish American, who was born in Poland as Sophie Machalowska. His father died when Joseph was six years old.[2] Verdeur attended North Catholic High School in Philadelphia, and led the North Catholic Falcons swim team to three consecutive Catholic League championships and two city championships. He was also a two-time first-team All-Catholic swimmer.

While attending La Salle University, he set nineteen world and twenty-one American records swimming for the La Salle Explorers.[2] As a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, Verdeur won a gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke with a new Olympic record time of 2:39.3.[3] He may well have won more medals in the butterfly and individual medley if these had been included at the time as he was a multiple national champion and record-breaker in both events.

Verdeur was also chosen by the coaches to compete in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay with the U.S. team (which also won the gold medal), but Verdeur gave up his place to teammate Wally Wolf so that Wolf could also receive a gold medal. But it could have been because Verdeur was eighth in the fifth heat with a time of 2:37.5 in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay trials and Wolf won the trials with a time of 2:14.[4] Verdeur was named Swimmer of the Year by Sport Magazine in 1948 and 1949. He graduated from LaSalle in 1950. Sportswriter Grantland Rice called Verdeur "the greatest swimmer of the first half century."[5]

Verdeur was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1966,[6] the LaSalle University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1961,[5] North Catholic Hall of Fame in 1991, The Helms Foundation Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and the National Polish American Hall of Fame in 2009.[2] He died of cancer in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania in 1991, aged 65. He was survived by his wife Mary Ellen Verdeur and their five children.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Joe Verdeur". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2012-11-13.
  2. ^ a b c d Joe Verdeur – National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame profile
  3. ^, Olympic Sports, Swimming at the 1948 London Summer Games, Men's 200 metres breaststroke final standings Archived 2011-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  4. ^ Page 119 1948 US Olympic Book
  5. ^ a b Joseph Verdeur Class of 1950 – La Salle University Hall of Athletes profile
  6. ^ Joe Verdeur (USA) – Honor Swimmer profile at International Swimming Hall of Fame
Preceded by

Alfred Nakache
Men's 200-meter breaststroke
world record-holder (long course)

April 5, 1946 – June 9, 1951
Succeeded by

Herbert Klein