Passages: Olympian, NCAA Champion Virgil Luken Dies at 80

Photo Courtesy: University of Minnesota Athletics

Passages: Olympian, NCAA Champion Virgil Luken Dies at 80

Former Minnesota national champion swimmer Virgil Luken passed away Saturday, June 10, at his home in Minnetonka, Minn. at the age of 80.

A 2004 member of the M Club Hall of Fame, Luken became a national champion the first year he competed on the University of Minnesota swim team, winning the 1962 NCAA 200-yard breaststroke.

He won Big Ten titles in each of the next two years, first as a member of the 400-yard medley team in 1963 and individually in the 200-yard breaststroke in 1964. A team captain in his senior year, the nine-time All-American finished his Minnesota career holding school records in the 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke, and 400-yard medley relay.

In 1964, Virgil Luken was named to the U.S. Olympic team and, along with fellow Gopher Hall of Fame member Walt Richardson, established a new Olympic record in the 400 medley relay in the Tokyo Games.

Virgil Luken started competitive swimming again at age 37 and earned 12 National Master titles. The last was in the 50-to-54 age group of the U.S. Masters as he recorded a first-place finish in the 50-yard breaststroke in 1993.

He was inducted into the U of M Aquatics Hall of Fame in 1986.

A visitation for Virgil Luken will be held Thursday, June 15 from 4-7 p.m., while the memorial service will be the following day at 1 p.m. Both will be held at the Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel in Edina, Minn.

— The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with University of Minnesota Swimming. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact 

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