The International Swimming Hall of Fame's film and video archive, which dates to the 1920's, is the most extensive and comprehensive in the world. As we continue to preserve and transfer footage from film to DVD, we will be adding to the virtual archive so that historic events from aquatic history can be enjoyed throughout the world.
These newsreel sequences from 1966 show Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao making his celebrated 1966 swim across the Yangtze River at Wuhan. Mao was 73 years old at the time and the swim was part of the launch of the Cultural Revolution and the cult of Mao as a superhuman figure. Power struggles had been going on behind the scenes. Mao's whereabouts were kept secret and he had appeared in public only once all year. There were rumours that he was gravely ill or even dead. Then came the 16th of July swim.

Accompanying 5,000 young swimmers in the annual race across the river at Wuhan, he is reported to have swum almost 15 kilometers (nine miles) in 65 minutes, swimming along with the currents. Pictures of Mao's head bobbing above the water, surrounded by swimmers carrying huge banners celebrating his achievement, were seen not only throughout China but around the world. The message was clear, even in his 70’s, Mao was a force to be reckoned with.

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