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The Model for an Active Lifestyle

1980 ISHOF outstanding contributor

Author Unknown | July 19, 2000

Thomas K. Cureton, Jr. retired professor of physical education, University of Illinois, recognized and honored both in this country and abroad as one of the modern leaders in physical education and for his pioneering research studies in physical fitness for nearly four decades, continues to demonstrate that with proper conditioning an individual can successfully compete athletically at the national and international level. Dr. Cureton, 84 years old this past August (1985), has been competing in Masters swimming competition since such meets were initially conducted in 1973 in Chicago. In that first meet, Dr. Cureton established records in the 1500 freestyle, the 100-, and 200-meter backstroke, and the 200-meter individual medley. His athletic successes have continued over the years. He is a former Yale varsity swimmer where, in 1923-25, he also gained national recognition.

In 1944, Dr. Cureton established the Physical Fitness Laboratory at the University of Illinois which was one of the first of its kind. He served as its director until his retirement in 1969. Throughout his 25 year tenure with the laboratory, hundreds of doctoral and masters students completed their studies, many of whom have gone on and in their own right, have distinguished themselves as the outstanding researchers and leaders in physical education and exercise science.

from ARAPCS - Physical Fitness Council - Newsletter, Fall, 1985

THOMAS K. CURETON, JR. (USA) was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Outstanding Contributor in 1980. The following text was included in the program for the induction ceremony of that year:

THE RECORD: For 35 years, the foremost lecturer and demonstrator on physical fitness in the U.S. Published 1,000 papers, books and research monographs in over 40 years. Twenty-five years chairman, National YMCA Committee, developing their national aquatic program. Twelve years Professor of Health & Physical Education and Director of Aquatics (and coach) at Springfield College. Twenty-eight years Professor of Physical Education and Director of Physical Fitness Labs at the University of Illinois. First physical fitness lab in the U.S. (University of Illinois). Numerous studies and research on swimming and swimming champions.

Dr. T. K. Cureton is honored in the Swimming Hall of Fame not so much for his early career as a Yale swimmer and Springfield swimming coach but as the swimming postgraduate who did most to promote the wider field of physical education, fitness and testing in all sports. In this broader scope he pioneered the fitness tests and research programs that helped his first love "swimming" into a new dimension with scientific coaching techniques. He was the "starter" in tests and measurements, the first to try to show why the champions swam faster and how these principles could be applied to others. His swim coach disciples Charles Silvia, Bill Heusner, Jim Counsilman, Don Van Rossen, Earl Zeigler and so many others have gone on to head university human energy resource and testing facilities that rival Cureton's original lab at Illinois. Dr. Cureton is the world's first and foremost salesman of physical fitness. Competitor Cureton, architect of the YMCA's National Aquatic Program for youth, returned as a senior citizen to big personal victories in Masters swimming.

Courtesy of The Henning Library at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.


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