Richard Cleveland (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1991)
FOR THE RECORD: WORLD RECORDS: 4 (100m, 100yd freestyle; 1 relay); AAU NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 8 (100m, 100yd freestyle; 1 relay); 1951 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (100m freestyle; 2 relays); AMERICAN RECORDS: 10 (100yd, 100m freestyle; 5 relays).
Coach Soichio Sakamoto made a believer out of Dick Cleveland, and Dick Cleveland made a believer out of the swimming world. Beginning his career in his native Hawaii and culminating at Ohio State University, Cleveland set four world and ten American records during his swimming career which spanned form 1946 to 1955.
At Ohio State, swimming under Hall of Famer Mike Peppe, Cleveland’s honors flourished. Dick set four NCAA titles, three Big Ten Conference titles, and was an AAU First Team All-American six times.
Success seemed to follow Cleveland’s every footstep. At the first Pan American Games held in Argentina in 1951, Dick won three gold medals in the 100 meter freestyle, and the 400 freestyle and medley relays. At the 1950 USA/Japan dual meet held in Osaka, Dick was a five-time gold medal winner.
Nicknamed “Spoofy,” Cleveland pioneered the use of weight training during the “off” season and bulked up his 6′ frame from 140 to 195 pounds to reach his peak performance weight.
Dick left a lasting impression on the sprint freestyle event as his 100 meter freestyle world record spanned three years until John Devitt of Australia broke Cleveland’s record in 1957.