KIHEI, MAUI, Hawaii, July 30. INTERNATIONAL Swimming Hall of Fame honoree Dick Cleveland died today in Maui. He was 73. The cause of death was not announced, but it was known that Cleveland had suffered a variety of illnesses in recent years.
A 1952 Olympian, Richard Cleveland was not only a great swimmer but an innovator in the sport as well. In his later years, he maintained a keen interest in the sport and, although he was not a Masters swimmer, he was a daily presence on the pool deck at the USMS Short Course Nationals in Honolulu in May.
Nicknamed "Spoofy," Cleveland racked up national and world records through the span of his career: 8 world and 13 American records in all.
His freestyle talents landed him in the record books, as he became only the second swimmer to break 50 seconds with his world record of 49.2 for 100 yards. (Alan Ford was the first sub-50-second swimmer.) He was also the first man to break 22 seconds for 50 yards free, clocking 21.9.
Long course, he was the first man to break 57 seconds (56.4 in 1951) and short course meters the first man under 55 seconds (54.8 in 1954).
At the 1950 Pan Ams in Argentina, he won three gold medals. His most successful international meet was the 1950 USA versus Japan dual meet, where he won five titles.
Six was Cleveland's lucky number. As a student at Ohio State University from 1950-54, he won six NCAA titles, six Big 10 titles, six AAU outdoor titles and won AAU All-America honors six times.
The highlight of his career was tying Johnny Weissmuller's record of winning five straight US national outdoor titles in the 100 meter free.
Cleveland is credited as the first person to use weight training to increase strength for swimming. In 1948, at the inspiration of Moses Kealoha, then "Mr. Hawaii," he began weightlifting, increasing his body weight on his six-foot frame from 140 to 175 pounds.