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Profiling Don McCullough

A colorful life in and out of the water

Author Unknown | March 29, 2002

E. Don McCullough, 85, was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1915. There were no high school swim programs, so he swam with the Columbus Athletic Club. He competed for Ohio State University from 1935-1940, with world record holder Higgins, and Coach Mike Peppe. His best college swim was fourth in breast, at nationals. Following graduation, he joined the Coast Guard, engaged in convoy duty. During this time, he married Betty.

After the war, Don taught high school physical education and coached for seven years in Columbus. In 1951, he did circus work and promotion for Cole Brothers Circus. In 1954, he worked for Bailey Brothers Circus, in an organizational role. Afterwards, he taught physical education and coached at Emporia State Teachers College, Kansas, and chaired the physical education department. In 1958, the State Department sent him to Iran for two years, as National Sports Advisor to the Shah. Betty taught school. Don returned to Emporia until 1965. He then spent a year on the road with a circus. In 1966, he moved to Vermillion, S.D., as a university professor and chair of the physical education department. He started their swim team. In the 1970s, Don started Masters swimming and is frequently ranked as an All-American. He swam the hour swim in 2001, and set a national relay record with his 85+ teammates. He and Betty still live in Vermillion, S.D., shoveling their way through an extremely snowy winter.

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