PHOENIX, Arizona, February 9. ON today's edition of The Morning Swim Show, International Swimming Hall of Fame CEO Bruce Wigo talks about a treasured part of his famous museum: The Olga Dorfner Vase.
Wigo talks about the state of womens swimming in the early 1900s, when Dorfner, was a national champion swimmer. Dorfner and her competitors lived under different standards than exist today, and we learn about that in an exclusive video provided by ISHOF. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Peter Busch: This is The Morning Swim Show for Thursday, February 9th 2012. I'm your host Peter Busch. In the FINIS monitor today we're talking with Bruce Wigo, the CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. We're doing a series of shows to highlight the new videos in their archives. Bruce joins us right now in the FINIS monitor from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bruce, welcome back. How are you doing?
Bruce Wigo: Doing great Peter.
Peter Busch: All right, we're talking about the Olga Dorfner Vase. What is that?
Bruce Wigo: You know when I came in the Hall of Fame a number of years ago we had an appraiser come in to evaluate our collection. And what surprised me was this Olga Dorfner Vase was regarded as the most valuable object in our possession — most valuable single object. And we've really done a lot of research on Olga Dorfner. She was just an incredible woman swimmer, but also it goes to the whole cultural aspect of swimming and public decency and people's attitudes towards women swimmers. The first AAU-sanctioned or the first national swimming championship was in New York City in the Harlem River in 1876 but there was not an AAU- recognized national championship for women until 1916, 50 years later it took them to get a championship and recognize sports for women. And of course the first sport recognized by the Amateur Athletic Union was swimming and diving because they recognized that swimming was something that girls had to do to protect themselves when a man wasn't around to save them. And this really came – it took a lot of evolution to get people convinced at this time that women should be doing athletic sports and could be wearing costumes and the big driver on this a boating accident in 1904 in New York City, the General Slocum Disaster, where a thousand women and girls drowned, and still it took time to recognize swimming as a sport. Anyway, Olga Dorfner was from Philadelphia and she was the Philadelphia Mermaid and this prize that we have is the first award given to a woman national swimming champion or AAU-recognized national champion in the United States.
Peter Busch: That's very, very interesting.
Bruce Wigo: This is a fantastic piece and it really goes into – the most amazing swimming pool probably ever built in the United States is the Sutro Baths and we actually have footage of her competing there at the Sutro Baths in 1960 where she won this cup.
Peter Busch: All right, let's take a look.
Peter Busch: Bruce, you can tell in the video it looked like some of the women weren't very comfortable out in public wearing their swimsuits. I guess we've come a long way in a century.
Bruce Wigo: Yes, the law or the rule was by the AAU that women had to cover up as soon as they got off the starting blocks and as soon as they emerged from the water so the cameramen caught the girls there and you can see they're kind of embarrassed. And then when Olga Dorfner is shown doing such she has a smock on to cover up her racing suit. So except for Claire Gallagher who's there, who's one of the other great swimmers of the year most of the girls seem to be fairly embarrassed.
Peter Busch: All right Bruce, another great video. We will catch up with you tomorrow. That's Bruce Wigo joining us from the International Swimming Hall of Fame. That's it for today's show, I'm Peter Busch reminding you to keep your head down at the finish.
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