Ex-presidents liked to swim

Posted Oct. 16, 2008, at 12:38 a.m.

As strategists and supporters of the candidates for the American presidency intensify the heat on the opponent in the final days of the campaign, perhaps the following from Thomas Jefferson has application, ”On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle stand like a rock.”

Actually, several American presidents have a history with swimming. President Harry Truman enjoyed afternoon swims in the White House pool but did not wear swim goggles, electing instead to swim wearing his eyeglasses.

Truman’s predecessor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt swam regularly, intent on regaining the use of his legs which had been attacked by polio. And, President Reagan, who swam competitively for his college team, rescued 77 victims as a summer lifeguard during his high school years, according to accounts.

For those swimmers who bemoan the early morning workout, consider President John Quincy Adams’ 5 a.m. swims in the Potomac River. In fact, some historians report Adams would swim without a bathing suit.

And, historians tell of Anne Royall, who is considered by some to be the first American professional journalist, and who had been refused an interview by Adams, waiting for Adams to finish his early morning swim. One morning while Adams was finishing his swim in the Potomac River, Royall collected Adams’ clothes from the banks of the river and sat on them until Adams granted an interview to Royall.

History students have read of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s heroic swimming exploits while serving in World War II when he and members of his crew swam 3 miles after their torpedo boat had been attacked by a Japanese destroyer. Interestingly, it was President Nixon who ordered the White House swimming pool converted to a press area for members of the White House press corps.

And, many an American has identified with Woodrow Wilson’s observation, “The man who is swimming against the stream knows of the strength of it.”

Swim notebook

ä Texas A&M diving coach Kevin Wright, an All-American diver at Bangor High, who competed at Ohio State and UMaine as a collegiate diver, saw his women divers finish 1, 2, and 3 in the 3-meter competition against Rice and North Texas in the Aggies opening swimming and diving competition of the 2008-09 season last weekend. Wright has received 12 awards as Coach of the Year, 11 since 1996 in the Big 12.

ä St Joseph’s College in Standish has named Rick Horr, head men’s and women’s swim coach. Horr coached Deering High of Portland for seven years where he won three Class A state titles and compiled a 44-8-1 dual meet record.ä The National Federation rules committee, which governs interscholastic swimming, has attempted to resolve discrepancies between backup timing and electronic timing for the 2008-09 season with the following, “In order to consider a potential timing system malfunction, there must be a difference of more than 0.3 seconds between automatic and back up times.”

ä NCAA officials have selected the University of Minnesota as the host facility for this year’s Division III nationals for men and women scheduled for March. The aquatic center contains an eight-lane 50-meter pool with a moveable bulkhead in eight feet of water along with a separate area for diving. The 21- by 10-foot video display board is the largest permanent video installation in an U.S. aquatic facility. A year ago, the Colby College women’s team finished 13th in the Division III nationals.

Recommend this article

SEE COMMENTS →

View stories by school

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business