Charles M. Daniels (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1965)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1904 gold (220 yd, 440yd freestyle; 4x50yd freestyle relay), silver (100yd freestyle), bronze (50yd freestyle), 4th (100yd backstroke); 1906 gold (100m freestyle), 4th (4x250m freestyle relay); 1908 gold (100m freestyle), bronze (4x200m freestyle); WORLD RECORDS: during his career, held every world freestyle record, from 25yd to 1 mile; U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 33; North American Athlete of the Year: 1909.
Born March 24, 1885, the late C. M. “Charlie” Daniels was the first great American swimmer and the world’s greatest swimmer from 1904 until his retirement in 1910 with four Olympic gold medals and 33 U.S. national championships. He was premier swimmer at the New York Athletic Club where he was also squash and bridge champion.
Daniels was picked as the North American athlete of the year for 1909 by the Helms Hall athletic board. He is credited as the one who evolved the American crawl from the two-beat Australian crawl and the man who gave freestyle speed swimming its greatest impetus since the beginning of modern competitive swimming in 1838 in England.
Prior to the advent of Daniels, the American record for 100 yards was much slower than the English record and as late as 1905, the American record was 2.4 tenths slower than the world’s record of 57.6. From that date on the record for that distance, thanks principally to Daniels’ revolutionary technique, has been held by an American.
March 23, 1906, Daniels reduced his world record to 56.0–cut to 55.4 on September 7, 1907– and to 54.8 on April 7, 1910.
Daniels continued to dominate the realm of freestyle swimming until his retirement in 1910. He was the first American to win an Olympic Games swimming event, winning both the 220 yard and 440 yard events at the 1904 St. Louis Games–the 100 meter at the 1906 Games in Athens, Greece–and the 100 meter at the 1908 London Olympics.
During his career, Daniels held every world freestyle record, from 25 yards to the mile and his 33 national championships were over all distances on the indoor and outdoor program.
Daniels more than any other swimmer brought the United States into the picture as a world swimming power. His first two visits to England mad believers in the country where modern swimming evolved and was headquartered.