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Profiling Mani Sanguily

A lifetime of swimming

Author Unknown | June 10, 2005

Mani Sanguily was a very sick child because of asthmatic bronchitis. At age five he spent a year at Saranac Lake in upstate New York and began healing through the benefit of swimming. He started swimming at age eight in his native Cuba in order to continue to improve. His swimming career became much more in earnest when he came to school in the U.S. in 1945 at Hackley School in Tarreytown, N.Y. He competed on the swimming team every year until graduating in 1950. During those years he competed in Cuba during the summertime.

* In 1948 he won his first Cuban national championship and he continued to win championships for the next 11 consecutive years dominating in breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley and setting innumerable national records.

* In 1951 he participated in the first Pan American Games in Buenos Aires placing fifth in the 200 fly.

* In 1952 he went to his first AAU national meet in Detroit placing third in the 100 fly and met Bumpy Jones.

* In 1952 he participated in the Olympic Games in Helsinki for Cuba.

* In 1954 he represented Cuba in the seventh Central American Games and won gold in 200 breast and silver in 200 fly.

* In 1955 he went to the second Pan American Games in Mexico and won silver in 200 breast.

* In 1956 he represented Cuba in the Olympic Games in Melbourne and was flag carrier in the opening ceremonies and placed seventh in the 200 breast, becoming the first Central American athlete who ever reached the finals in Olympic swimming.

* In 1957 he won three national USA swimming championships and became the first Latin American swimmer to break a USA national record (though there was an asterisk by his name because he was not a citizen). At that time you were allowed to swim breaststroke under the water for the entire race (though of course most people popped their head up to breathe).

* In 1958 he won two USA national championships breaking the national record in the 100 breast yards and meters, returning to the original breaststroke where the head stays above water.

* In 1959, with a medical degree, he won his last national USA championship in the 100-meter breast with a new national record.

* In 1959 he competed in his third Pan American Games and got a bronze 200-meter breaststroke.

Mani graduated from medical school at Ohio State in 1959, started his family medicine practice in 1961, and continues to be actively involved in his medical practice today.

Mani didn't swim competitively from 1960 until 1977 when he learned about Masters from Bill Mulliken, who had won Gold at the Pan American Games where Mani won bronze. Mani's first USMS meet was short course national in San Antonio in 1978. The return to swimming was an immense boon as Mani regained aerobic capacity, rebuilt muscle mass, and enjoyed competing again.

While Mani is primarily a pool swimmer, he loves the open water as well. He has completed the 16-mile swim in the Hudson River from the Tappan Zee bridge to the George Washington bridge four times; he and Paul McClintock are the only swimmers who have done it more than once.

The swimming world tragically lost a young swimmer in 1984 who was very close to Mani and who Mani felt had great potential. To honor and remember this young man, Mani and the USMS House of Delegates created the David Yorzyk Memorial Award which is presented annually to the swimmer who performs the most outstanding 400-yard individual medley at the Short Course National Championships.

Mani has no intention to slow down as there is more to do. Mary Jo, his wife of 44 years, has been very, very encouraging of his training and competition and often attends meets and other swimming events.

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