By Bill Moran
June 27, 2012 – This week many Americans are watching the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in anticipation of the Games of the XXX Olympiad that will commence 27 July in London.
A couple questions that come to my mind are – How have swimming times progressed in past decades? How have local-area swimmers fared in championship competition?
Below is a brief review of some historical fun facts to help to begin to answer these questions.
THE 1920s – LOCAL SWIMMING CHAMPION BECOMES TARZAN THE MOVIE STAR
Born in 1904, Johnny Weissmuller lived for a while at 226 West North Avenue in Chicago, and went to high school in Chicago. Johnny won five gold medals in freestyle swimming in the 1924 and 1928 Olympic games, and then gained even more worldwide fame as an actor as he starred in six Tarzan movies for MGM with actress Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane, and Cheeta the Chimpanzee.
In the 400-meter freestyle Olympics race –
- in 1924 Weismuller won with an Olympic record time of 5:04.2
- in 2008 Park Tae-Hwan of South Korea won with a much faster time of 3:41.86.
COMPARING WORLD RECORD TIMES IN 1972 AND 2008 OLYMPICS
Here are comparisons of select times for world records at Olympics --
Olympic Champions 200-meter Freestyle
> 1972 Mark Spitz 1:52.78 World Record
> 2008 Michael Phelps 1:42.96 World Record
(Today (on June 27) Michael Phelps won at the US Olympic swimming trials with a time of 1:45.70)
Olympic Champions 4 x 200-meter Freestyle Relay
> 1972 John Kinsella (Hinsdale), Fred Tyler, Steve Genter & Mark Spitz 07:35:78 World Record
> 2008 Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens, Peter Vanderkaay 6:58.56 World Record
HINSDALE’S DANNY THOMSON AT 2012 OLYMPIC TRIALS
Hinsdale's 18-year-old Danny Thomson finished his 400-meter freestyle heat in a time 3:57.29 at the U.S. Olympic trials last Monday. His time Monday was 35th best.
(Thomson’s time in 2012 was faster than the 4:00:27 winning time of the gold medalist at the 1972 Olympics).
Thomson also scheduled to compete in the 1,500-meter freestyle prelims on Sunday.
HINSDALE’S IHSA ILLINOIS STATE CHAMPIONS IN THE 200-YARD BOYS FREESTYLE
Hinsdale has produced dozens of individual state high school champions over the years in many swimming events.
Below is a list of Hinsdale’s 10 IHSA Illinois state champions in the 200-yard boys freestyle; note that the times generally have become faster over the years.
1 1962 Scott Cordin* 01:51.1
2 1963 Scott Cordin * 01:47.5
3 1966 Bob Nieman 01:46.7
4 1969 John Kinsella 01:44.2
5 1970 Mark Lambert 01:43.4
6 1972 Tom Beyer 01:42.1
7 1974 Greg Higgins 01:43.0
8 1975 Dan Griebel 01:40.8
9 1988 Brian Gunn 01:39.1
10 2011 Danny Thomson 01:37.6
• Scott Cordin swam for Hinsdale Township High School, while the other 8 swimmers swam for Hinsdale Central. Source: www.ihsa.org
Last February Danny Thomson broke an IHSA Illinois state record for the second straight day by swimming a 4:18.86 in the 500-yard freestyle.
I look forward to seeing if more swimming records will be broken in the next couple of months.