INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: Editor-in-Chief of Swim, Swimming
World and Swimming Technique since 1992; Producer of swiminfo.com and Swimming
World T.V.; Author of Complete Book of Swimming (1994); Masters swimming
competitor since 1971; Promoter of Masters swimming;
Dr. Phillip Whitten, Editor-in-Chief of SWIM, Swimming World, and Swimming
Technique magazines since 1992; SwimInfo.com since 1996; and as Chief Media
Officer of Sports Publications International, the producer of the newly
inaugurated Swimming World T.V., is one of the world’s leading advocates for the
sport of swimming and for swimmers at all levels, from young age group to elite
He was born in Philadelphia and spent most of his early years in New York in a
Quonset hut and later in tenement apartments in the Bronx. At age 13 and
the oldest of four children, he moved with his family to California. Being an
athletically inclined child, he went out for the junior varsity swim team at
Livermore High School but missed the cut. Two years later he made the varsity
team by the skin of his teeth. By his senior year, he became a nationally ranked
breaststroker in the boy’s 15-16 age group in AAU swimming and led his high
school team to an undefeated season, a league championship, and a strong showing
at the North Coast championships. At age 16, Phil ended his high school
career as his school’s first All-American athlete, a National Merit and
Westinghouse Science scholarship winner, and his class Salutatorian.
Phil attended San Jose State University and during his three years of varsity
swimming, the Spartans were undefeated, beating Stanford, Cal, and Foothill
College. He earned All-America honors and was elected co-captain in his senior
year. In 1961, he represented the USA at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, winning
a silver medal. While at San Jose, he became a leader of the civil rights and
anti-Vietnam War movements in both the Bay Area and nationally. He co-founded
one of the first “underground newspapers” of the era, The New Student.
After earning a double bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in different
disciplines from San Jose State, Phil won a scholarship to Harvard University,
where he was elected President of the Harvard Graduate Student Association.
While working for the Harvard Center for the Study of Conflict and Social
Change, he started two relief organizations that flew food and medical supplies
to refugees and ended up saving 3000 children from war torn Nigeria. A field
hospital established by Phil to treat refugee children in the Ivory Coast became
one of the largest hospitals in West Africa.
Phil returned to California, taking a job as Associate Publisher of CRM Inc., a
small, innovative publishing company. Eight months later, he was named
Publisher, and when CRM opened a film division, Phil was appointed Executive
Producer. The division produced four educational films in its first year, two of
which won coveted awards as the year’s best and most innovative educational
films. Then, with other CRM executives, Phil moved to Connecticut to found a new
publishing company, eventually acquired by CBS.
Phil chose to be a stay-at-home dad and worked as a freelance writer and editor
while raising his son, Russell. He completed his doctoral dissertation, and
contributed to many magazines including Swimming World. He took teaching jobs at
Endicott College, Bentley College and then Harvard University, while still
continuing to write. At Bentley and Harvard he won outstanding teaching awards.
Phil joined Masters Swimming in December 1971 and has trained regularly since
then. An active member of New England Masters, he served on the board for more
than a dozen years. He also began writing more about Masters swimming as he came
to understand the revolutionary potential the activity held for lifelong health
and fitness. Along the way he set several national and world Masters records in
the 40-44, 45-49, and 50-54 age groups.
In 1978, he wrote a feature story on Masters swimming for the mass-circulated
“Parade” magazine, a supplement to hundreds of Sunday newspapers across the U.S.
The article was so popular that US Masters president Ted Haartz recounts how
13,000 letters, requesting additional information, arrived at Haartz’s doorstep.
Eventually, over 30,000 letters found their way to Ted. It took a team of
volunteers five months to answer all the questions.
In 1991, he published the first results of a longitudinal study of Masters
swimming using data that went back to 1975. In this study, he discovered that
Masters swimmers did not experience the average one percent per year
physiological decline that begins in most of the population at age 25. Masters
swimmers actually improved until age 32 or 33, then declined very gradually, not
reaching one percent decline until their seventies! Phil’s study showed
physiological decline to be the consequence of an inactive lifestyle, not just
In 1992 Phil accepted the position of Editor-in-Chief of Sports Publications
which publishes Swimming World, Swimming Technique and the newly acquired
magazine for Masters swimmers, SWIM.
Phil has remained swimming’s most persistent advocate, maintaining that this is
the sport of a lifetime. Since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five
years ago, he has continued to swim and compete, maintaining that swimming was
key in forestalling the progression of the disease. A study published in October
2004, was the first to corroborate the link between regular exercise and
forestalling the progression of Parkinson’s.
Over the years, Phil has authored or co-authored 18 books and 600 major articles
on a wide variety of topics, and has appeared on television (including the
“Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Dateline,” etc.) and radio (including a
recent series on NPR) and lectured throughout the United States and overseas on
swimming, fitness, health and the aging process. He has published pioneering
studies on exercise, aging and sexuality, and on the effects of exercise in
forestalling biological and psychological aging. Among others, some of his
articles include issues of the Chinese doping scandal, effects of Title IX,
minorities in swimming, East German drug mis-use, swimming and academic
performance and more.