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Profiling Steve Clark

Enjoyed many records and firsts

Author Unknown | July 19, 2000

Steve Clark, living in San Anselmo, Calif., spent two years in the Army and has practiced civil law since 1969. He is a Masters swimmer with San Francisco's The Olympic Club and is married to Etta, author of "Growing Old is Not For Sissies," a photographic book of aging athletes—look for it's sequel! He is the father of Nina, Nicki and Kim Clark. (from "ISHOF Headlines", Summer 1998)

Steve Clark (USA) was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer in 1966. The following text was included in the program for the induction ceremony of that year:

Steve Clark, U.S.A., swam the 1960 Olympics out of Los Altos High School and the 1964 Olympics out of Yale and Santa Clara. He won five NCAA individual championships at Yale and six AAU titles for Santa Clara Swim Club. He won three gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics, setting a world record of 52.9 for the 100-meter freestyle.

Clark is the first man in the world to have swum faster than 21 seconds for 50 yards, 46 seconds for 100 yards, 53 seconds for 100 meters, 1:50 for 200 yards and two minutes for 200 meters.

Clark's nine world records would have been at least 29 in an earlier time when FINA was accepting short course times for 50, 100, 200 and 220-yard, 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle. Steve Clark was Santa Clara's first great male swimmer at the time Hall of Famer Chris Von Saltza was Santa Clara's premier woman swimmer. Whereas Chris' father characterized Chris by saying, "The longer the distance, the better the Von Saltza," he might have added, "and the shorter the distance, the better the Clark." Steve Clark was unquestionably the world's fastest freestyle sprint swimmer for five years, retiring to Harvard Law School with his records unchallenged.

In speculating on what might have been, swim buffs will always wonder on the fate that might have kept Steve from being the first man to win four gold medals in an Olympiad. Steve had tendonitis in his shoulder during the USA's sudden-death Olympic Trials. His fourth place made the team, but only as a relay swimmer. By Tokyo, the tendonitis was gone, but U.S. rules limited Steve to three relays and three gold medals. He started off the 400-freestyle relay in the fastest gun start 100 of the Olympics. It was a new world record, but Steve didn't get to do it when it would count for that fourth gold medal.

Clark's book, "Competitive Swimming As I See It" is a swimming best seller.

Current information from the International Swimming Hall of Fame newsletter and from Steve's ISHOF induction ceremony

 

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