John Davies (AUS)
Honor Swimmer (1984)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1952 gold (200m breaststroke); WORLD RECORD: 1952 (200yd breaststroke); AAU NATIONALS: 5 (100m, 200m 100yd, 220yd breaststroke); NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2 (200yd, 100yd butterfly-breaststroke); AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2 (220yd breaststroke); AMERICAN RECORDS: 4 (200m, 200yd, 220yd breaststroke).
Can you imagine an Olympic record set in 1952 still standing today? It could only happen to Australia’s John Davies, the last and the fastest of the butterfly breaststrokers. His event was discontinued after 1952. Davies was the forerunner of a new wave of Australian male swimmers, down under men, who swept the Olympics four years later. Ironically the only swimming events the Australian men did not win in 1956 were the 200m Butterfly (Bill Yorzyk-USA) and the 200m Breaststroke (Masaru Furukawa-JPN), the two events added to the program to replace Davies’ 200 butterfly breaststroke. Davies came to America to swim for Matt Mann at Michigan in 1949 winning five AAU Nationals and two NCAA Championships. He was required by Olympic rules to swim for his native Australia in Helsinki. Matt Mann was the U.S. Olympic coach and tried very hard to beat his protégé. The results were a hard fought Olympic final between Bowen Stassforth (USA) and John Davies. Davies won. Today Davies is a practicing lawyer in California but one legal question has long since been solved: no one will ever beat his Olympic record.