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Gold Medallion


Rogers B. "Tiger" Holmes


The International Swimming Hall of Fame is proud to declare Rogers B. "Tiger" Holmes as the 1998 Gold Medallion recipient.  Tiger's commitment to the sport of swimming for all ages, is one of sincerity.


Tiger, father of five children with eight grand children, was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.  As a youngster, he was competitive swimmer who, during his college years at the University of Florida, competed on the swimming team.  In 1942, he was the Southeast Conference 50 yard freestyle champion and served as the team captain.


His college career was interrupted by World War II and Tiger served as an active duty pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps (1943-1948) and again in the U.S. Air Force from 1952-1953, after the war.  He retired as  Lt. Colonel in the Florida Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force National Guard.


Tiger returned to the University of Florida following the war and graduated in the Class of 1948.  He was president of his graduating class, member of the Florida Blue Key, University Hall of Fame, University Athletic Hall of Fame and president of the Letterman Club and Gator Boosters.


In 1954, with one truck and he as the driver, Tiger founded the Holmes Lumber Company, one of the most successful lumber and hardware companies in the Southeast United States.  It has grown to include 5 locations employing 450 people.


In 1982, Tiger returned to swimming, this time as therapy following open heart surgery.  He then became involved with and joined the Masters Swimming Program which was growing by leaps and bounds both nationally and internationally.  Since his involvement, he has won 14 National Masters titles and is the Masters World Champion 50 meter butterfly in 1990, 1992 and 1994.  In 1988, he sponsored the Holmes Lumber Jax Masters Team.  One hundred and seventy swimmers made the trip that year to the Masters World Championships in Brisbane, Australia.  One of the purposes of this venture was to spotlight the City of Jacksonville, Florida, and its woeful need for a 50 meter swim facility.  The venture also allowed many swimmers to make a wonderful trip that they otherwise would not have been able to make to participate in a world Masters championship.


After returning from Australia, the team devoted itself to teaching Jacksonville's underprivileged children to swim.  In three years, over 12,000 kids were given the opportunity to learn to swim under this team sponsored "Every Child A Swimmer" program.


Tiger has been a board member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame since 1991, serving as Chairman of the Board from 1996 to 1998.  The American College Coaches awarded him the Charles McCaffree Award in 1989 for outstanding contributions to swimming.  In 1996, he was awarded the first Jacksonville Area Sports Lifetime Achievement Award.  He is a member of the Jacksonville Sports Hall of Fame and active in civic affairs.  He is a past Chairman of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee.


Tiger Holmes is more than just a businessman and athlete.  His southern style and mannerisms, his home-spun yarns and stories wrapped around his southern drawl and his genuine concern for others, make him a unique individual.  Tiger has a way to make others feel comfortable around him and his big, broad smile brings a feeling of warmth and sincerity.  He is an inspiration to all and credits others with his success.  In fact, he says his Masters-swimming daughter, Mary Holmes Roebuck, makes swimming so enjoyable that Dad just has to participate.

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