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Obituary Archive

Bill Prew Passes Away

Bill Prew, a 1998 inductee into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, passed away on Tuesday, October 19th, in Boynton Beach, Fla. Bill was 88 years old.


It was during the AAU National Championship, at Yale University, in 1942 that Bill's distinctive first place finish was clocked in 50.6 seconds, 4 tenths of a second under Johnny Weissmuller's 16 year old world record. The timers all thought they had made a mistake - no one could break the 51 second barrier, that was impossible. However, as could sometimes happen in this sport before electronic timing was instituted, Bill was awarded the gold medal, but his time was set at 51 seconds, to tie Weissmuller's time.


Immediately after that meet, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp.. During the war and for the next four years and during what would have been the peak of his swimming career, he piloted the Douglas A-20 aircraft, one time having to swim away from a crash in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panama. Swimming saved Bill's life then.


Bill was instrumental in the early fundraising drive that built ISHOF’s auditorium and later served as ISHOF’s Chairman of the Board. In later years, he re-located to Florida, was an avid golfer and cared for his wife Olga, an invalid for many years who died in 2008.

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