Swimming World Presents “Mysteries of Our Museum: A Mysterious Medal – Gail Peters Roper’s 1954 Osaka Bronze”

Swimming World October 2019 Mysteries of Our Museum Gail Peters Roper 1954 Osaka Medal Japan USA Denmark International Meet

Mysteries of Our Museum: A Mysterious Medal

By Bruce Wigo

A beautiful bronze medal commemorating a Japan-USA-Denmark International Swimming Meet led to the story of the best all-around woman swimmer from the early 1950s who also became one of the best Masters swimmers ever: Gail Peters Roper.

“Mysteries at the Museum” is a wonderful TV show on the Travel Channel. Hosted by Don Wildman, the show visits museums around the world to explore the incredible stories and secrets that lay behind seemingly insignificant relics and artifacts of the past. So far, the show has aired four episodes from the International Swimming Hall of Fame, but there are literally hundreds of other amazing stories of the objects displayed at ISHOF that have yet to be told.

One of these concerns a mysterious artifact that I recently discovered in a nook in the ISHOF archive. It is a beautiful bronze medal commemorating a Japan-USA-Denmark International Swimming Meet, held in Osaka, Japan, in 1954. In the center of this seven-inch-in-diameter disk is a beautiful bas-relief of a mermaid holding an olive victory wreath. I had never heard of this meet, and I wanted to learn the story behind it. I couldn’t have imagined where the research would take me.

The simple answer was found in ISHOF’s world-renown Henning Library. The namesake of the library is Dr. Harold Henning, one of the founders of ISHOF who also served as FINA president from 1972 to 1976. Coincidentally, Dr. Henning was the American team’s coach and manager for a four-man team trip to Japan, and he wrote the article about it that I found in the September 1954 issue of Swimming World Magazine.

The team was selected at the U.S. nationals, held at the famous Broadripple Pool in Indianapolis. The four swimmers were national breaststroke champion Richard Fadgen of North Carolina State and three future Hall of Famers, Ford Kono, Bill Woolsey and Dick Cleveland.

In Japan, the team competed in the Japanese National Championships and a week later in the International Meet in Osaka. Curiously, the International Meet had only seven “international” swimmers among the 450-plus entries. There were the four American men, two Danes and one American woman who was living in Japan.

It was her story and how she came to be in Japan in 1954 that took my research in a different direction.

To read more about Gail Peters Roper and how her 1954 Bronze beauty came to be,
check out the October issue of Swimming World, out now!

Swimming World October 2019 Cover Daiya Seto

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FEATURES

024 MYSTERIES OF OUR MUSEUM: A MYSTERIOUS MEDAL
by Bruce Wigo
A beautiful bronze medal commemorating a Japan-USA-Denmark International Swimming Meet led to the story of the best all-around woman swimmer from the early 1950s who also became one of the best Masters swimmers ever: Gail Peters Roper.

026 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO: DAWN OF GREATNESS
by John Lohn
When the 2020 Olympic Games open next July, there will be no round-number anniversary of what Australian Dawn Fraser accomplished 56 years earlier in 1964. Rather, it is the site of the Olympiad that resonates. As Tokyo prepares to host the world’s finest athletes, it also serves as the place where Fraser became the first swimmer ever to win Olympic gold in the same event at three consecutive Games—a feat that, even now, is wildly difficult to comprehend.

030 IT’S TIME FOR SOME RESPECT
by John Lohn
For someone to boast four World titles and seven individual medals from the World Championships, the instant assumption is that he stands out as one of the biggest names in the sport. Sure, Japan’s Daiya Seto is respected by his rivals and generally around the pool, but his exploits are greater than the recognition that has been given.

034 FASTER THAN EVER
by David Rieder
Heading into the 2020 Olympics, a young American sprint corps has turned the United States into heavy gold-medal favorites in both the 100 free and 400 free relay. However, the real contest will come at the U.S. Trials, where Olympic hopefuls must get through a cutthroat gauntlet of speed in order to earn their spots for Tokyo.

038 THE NEW “KIDS” ON THE BLOCK
by Craig Lord
This month marks the beginning of a new era in swimming with the unveiling of the International Swimming League, featuring a new and dynamic format of swimming that includes a global Pro-Team tour with some of the world’s greatest swimmers in action.

COACHING

010 LESSONS WITH THE LEGENDS: KAREN MOE HUMPHREYS
by Michael J. Stott

014 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: SHOULDER INJURY PREVENTION FOR THE FREESTYLE ARM ENTRY
by Rod Havriluk
Every team’s injury management plan should include strategies to address the freestyle arm entry and prevent shoulder injury. Major benefits also include increasing the index of coordination and, thereby, increasing swimming velocity.

016 A CASE FOR HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING: ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL
by Michael J. Stott
The verdict is unanimous: high school swimming adds immeasurable value to the career and experience of a young athlete.

051 Q&A WITH COACH TERRY JONES
by Michael J. Stott

052 HOW THEY TRAIN KAITLYNN SIMS AND LILLIE NORDMANN
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

013 DRYSIDE TRAINING: BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

042 GOLDMINDS: BUILDING A TEAM OF GREAT SWIMMING PARENTS
by Wayne Goldsmith
When given the opportunity to understand the importance of their role and their influence, swimming parents can become the most powerful, positive force in their child’s life.

054 UP & COMERS: KEATON JONES
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 BEYOND THE YARDS

018 DID YOU KNOW? MARTHA NORELIUS

019 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

044 PREP SCHOOL DIRECTORY

055 GUTTERTALK

056 PARTING SHOT