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Remembering Albert VandeWeghe

1990 ISHOF honor swimmer and member of very athletic family

Author Unknown | July 19, 2000

Albert VandeWeghe died of leukemia on August 13, 2002 in Tulsa, Okla. at the age of 86. After winning a silver medal in the 1936 Olympics in the 100-meter backstroke, Al entered Princeton University and majored in chemical engineering. He lettered in swimming all four years and captained the swim team. He had a successful career with the Dupont Company and continued his swimming career in Masters. He lived on a farm raising cattle and fruit and nut trees with his wife, Peg and his son, Ted and two daughters, Brie and Peggy. 

Al was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer (USA) in 1990. The following text was included in the program for the induction ceremony of that year:

The Record: 1936 Olympic silver (100-meter back). Six world records: (100-yard, 100-meter and 220-yard back). Six A.A.U. national championships: (150-yard and 100-meter back) and relays. Five N.C.A.A. championships: (150-yard back) and relays. Nine American records: (100-yard, 200-meter, 220-yard, 150-yard, 440-yard, 500-yard back).

It would be difficult to find a better family athletic record than the example set by uncle Al VandeWeghe, world record holding backstroker, his cousin Kiki (NBA basketball All-Star) and his cousin, Tanna, 1964 Olympic backstroker. VandeWeghe was the first man under a minute in the 100-yard backstroke, a milestone achievement he attained while still in high school. He set a world short course record at 59.41 on February 18, 1939. This was one of six world backstroke records he set between 1934 and 1939, mostly while at Princeton University. He also had nine American backstroke records and three American medley relay records while teamed with Dick Hough (Hall of Fame breaststroker) and Hank Van Oss (freestyler). This trio won three AAU nationals and three NCAA crowns with Parks substituting for Van Oss in one of the AAU championships. Al VandeWeghe won a total of five nationals in backstroke. He was undefeated in college swimming and finished second to the all-time backstroke legend Adolph Kiefer in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Besides being the first man under a minute for one milestone achievement, Al has a second when he introduced the revolutionary VendeWeghe-Vogt backstroke flip turn at the AAU nationals in 1934. Among his many honors at Patterson High School, Hunn School and Princeton University, he was the selection as New Jersey's top Amateur Athlete in 1936. He was also voted top New Jersey Collegiate Athlete in 1939 and Princeton's Outstanding Scholar Athlete in 1940. His international experience, limited by the depression, extended only to the USA-Japan dual meet and an all-victorious trip to Poland after the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

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