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Alan Ford Broke Weissmuller's Record

1966 ISHOF honor swimmer

Author Unknown | July 19, 2000

Alan Ford (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:

First to break 50 seconds for 100-yard freestyle.

If Johnny Weissmuller was the Cadillac of swimmers, then Alan Ford was at least his own namesake, quick on the pick-up, tight on his turns, and able to get off the blocks from start to high in record time.

Ford was his own man but his destiny wills that he'll always be known as the swimmer who finally broke Johnny Weissmuller's record. He did this on the 13th of February, 1943 in New Haven, Conn., with a 50.6 clocking for 100 yards. Weissmuller's 51 flat, set at Ann Arbor, Mich., on April 5, 1927, had stood against all comers for 16 years.

Ford gained milestone immortality in his own right 13 months later. On March 18, 1944 at New Haven, he was the first man in the world to swim 100 yards under 50 seconds. It was eight more years before Ohio State's Dick Cleveland became the second man in history to go under this 50 second "four minute mile" of swimming.

Yale man Ford came from the Panama Canal Zone where he swam for Henry Grieser's Red, White & Blue Troupe. His next stop was Mercersburg Academy where he was national 220 yard champion under coach King Miller in 1942. Ford's world acclaim is for his milestone performances at 100 yards, but he twice broke the 100-meter freestyle mark of Peter Fick and Al Jany, knocking it down to 55.4, a time that also stood until Cleveland. He twice won the U. S. National AAU 200-meter and 220-yard freestyle titles and anchored innumerable record breaking Yale relays.

Alan Ford made a comeback after Navy service and silver medaled at the 1948 Olympics.

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

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