FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida, April 15. BUCK DAWSON, founder of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the Hall’s first President, was presented with the 2004 Joseph G. Rogers Award “for his contributions to YMCA swimming and to competitive swimming, in general” at the YMCA National Swimming and Diving Championships in Fort Lauderdale on April 3.
Dawson’s full time relationship with swimming began in 1955 with his marriage to RoseMary Mann, whose father, Matt Mann, was the 1952 Head U.S. Olympic Swimming Coach and founder of the world’s first competitive swimming camps, Chikopi (1920) and Ak-o-Mak (1928).
In 1964, Dawson founded the International Swimming Hall of Fame, where the first combined YMCA men’s and women’s national championship was held in 1972.
He is currently serving as the Hall’s Executive Director emeritus.
A World War II hero with 19 decorations, Dawson served on the U.S. Olympic Swimming Committee for twelve year and was a Special Advisor to the Peace Corps. He was honored as United States Swimming Coach of the Year in Long Distance Swimming in 1981; was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame Honoree in 1986; was awarded the Fort Lauderdale Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 1987; was a recipient of the Commodore and Golden Whale from the American Red Cross; received the R. Max Ritter Award, the highest honor bestowed by US Swimming. In 1971 he received the W.R. Bill Schroeder Award from the Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame, an association he founded in 1971.
His career has included friendships with some of the modern legends of swimming, including Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Esther Williams and Eleanor Holm, as well as with William E. Simon, Art Linkletter, and Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
But Dawson is most proud of his wife, RoseMary, who passed away on May 3, 2003, and who took the first U.S. age group swimming team abroad, and of his daughter, Marilyn, who won a bronze medal in swimming in the 1968 Olympic Games.