SARASOTA, Florida, November 6. AFTER a long and valiant struggle with emphysema, Alan Ford, one of swimming's all-time greats, died November 3. Born in Panama City, he moved to Sarasota, Fla., from Midland, Mich., 20 years ago.
Ford attended Panama Canal Zone schools (BHS '41), Mercersburg Academy (PA) and graduated from Yale University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1945. He also served as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy during WWII.
During his prep and university careers, Ford held numerous national and world swimming records. While at Yale, Ford broke Johnny Weismuller's 17-year-old world record in the 100 yard freestyle. His most prominent record was breaking the 50 second barrier for the 100 yard freestyle; swimming's equivalent of running a sub-four minute mile in track. Ford made a comeback after the war to win a silver medal in the 1948 Olympic Games held in London. For all his aquatic achievements, Ford was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1966.
Ford spent his professional career designing and supervising the building of oil refineries, chemical, ore, and food processing plants as well as petroleum and chemical storage facilities in the US and abroad. He retired as Vice President of International Terminals, Inc. in Bay City, MI.
"Alan was a champion in the water and out of it," said Bruce Wigo, CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
"We not only lost a great champion," said Peter Daland, dean of America's Olympic coaches, "but a great man and a gentlemen. I'm very grateful for having been able to spend time with him this past year."
Ford is survived by his wife of 63 years, Beverly Joy, a daughter Joy Recla of Jacksonville, Fla., a son Randall of Lexington, Ky., twin sons Donald of San Francisco, Calif., and Robert of Syracuse, N.Y., a sister Marilyn Foster of New York, N.Y., seven grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
To see Alan Ford in Action in 1944, click here.
To learn more about Alan Ford click here.
To watch a "Morning Swim Show" with Alan Ford, click here.