Arne Borg (SWE)
Honor Swimmer (1966)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1924 silver (400m, 1500m freestyle), 4th (100m freestyle); 1928 gold (1500m freestyle), bronze (400m freestyle); WORLD RECORDS: 31 individual records between 1921 and 1929; EUROPEAN CHAMPION: 10 years; NATIONAL AAU CHAMPIONSHIPS: 6 (while swimming with the Illinois Athletic Club).
Arne Borg is still a national hero in Sweden, one of those legendary sports figures of the 1920’s Golden Age of Sport. For ten years he was Europe’s best swimmer, the world’s best distance swimmer and challenger to Johnny Weissmuller. Borg, the “big bad man” of European swimming because of his unusual training habits, was a disappointing second to Australia’s Boy Charleton in the 1500 meters (metric mile) at the 1924 Olympics, but won handily in the 1928 Games. His world record 19:07 at Bologna, Italy, September 2, 1927, stood up for 11 years and was nearly a minute under the world record he broke to set it. He set the first of his 30 individual world records in 1921 and the last in 1929. In the U.S., the popular Swede won 6 individual national AAU championships during 2 years as roommate, teammate, playmate of the Illinois Athletic Club’s Johnny Weissmuller and tormenter of the IAC’s Hall of Fame coach Bill Bachrach. Commenting on his showboating in European championships, Swedish swim magazine “CROL” said, “Arne Borg did not have a style of swimming that one would consider normal and logic. Borg swam without a distinct rule, at times he pulled only, or if not he would use a 2-beat kick; at other instances he used a four or six beat kick. Sometimes a few meters before the turn he would prolong his staying underwater for 10 or 12 meters. This act of showing off made this swimmer very unpopular.”