Passages: World-Record Setter and Olympic Medalist Shiro Hashizume Dies at 94

MineKasapoglu--44 - swimming

Passages: World-Record Setter and Olympic Medalist Shiro Hashizume Dies at 94

ISHOF Honoree Shiro Hashizume died recently at the age of 94. Up until his death on March 9, 2023, Hashizume was Japan’s oldest living Olympic medalist.

Born in 1928, Hashizume should have been at his peak for the 1948 Olympics in London, but Japan was not yet permitted back into the Olympic Family of Nations following the end of World War II.  Shiro had to settle for breaking a world record at a time when he may also have won the Olympic gold medal.  At the time the world assembled in London for the 15th Olympiad, Japan held its own national championships of Olympic events. Hashizume swam the 1500-meter freestyle in 18:37.8, faster than Jimmy McLane’s 19:18.5 swim that won him the Olympic gold medal halfway around the world in London.

Hashizume and Hall of Famer Hironoshin Furuhashi flip-flopped world records in the 1500-meter and 800-meter freestyles for the next three years.  In 1949, at the American Swimming Championships held in Los Angeles, Hashizume set world records in the 800-meter freestyle (9:45) and the 1500-meter freestyle (18:32.6).

At the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Hashizume established earned his Olympic medal, as he claimed silver in the 1500 freestyle. Hashizume finished behind only American Ford Konno.

More recently, in 1987, Hashizume, a 1951 graduate from Nihon University Faculty of Law, was awarded Japan’s prestigious Order of the Purple Ribbon “Shiju Hosho,” an order for a person meritorious in the field of art and science.  He was a member of the Board of Education in Yokohama City and Managing Director of the Hashizume Swimming School.

He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1992.

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