Alan Ford (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1966)
FOR THE RECORD: WORLD RECORDS: First to break 50 seconds for 100 yd. freestyle; 100m freestyle; NATIONAL AAU CHAMPIONSHIPS: 220 yd (twice).
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, Connecticut with a :50.6 clocking for 100 yards. Weissmuller’s 51 flat, set at Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 5, 1927, had stood against all comers for 16 years.
Ford gained milestone immortality on 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 sec. “4 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 marks of Peter Fick and Al Jany, knocked it down to :55.4, a time that also stood until Cleveland. He twice won the U.S. National AAU 200 meter-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.