Budd Goodwin (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1971)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1904 gold (water polo); U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS (19): 1901-1915 (including 500yd freestyle, quarter-mile, half-mile); METROPOLITAN CHAMPIONSHIPS (over 30): included 500yd freestyle, one mile, five mile, Marathon race from the Battery to Coney Island; Congressional Medal for bravery for a sea rescue off Newport News, Virginia.
Budd Goodwin was employed by his father who thought swimming was nonsense if it interfered with work on their Manhattan Island excursion ferry. Budd had to work out during his lunch hour, a routine which consisted of running uptown to the New York Athletic Club, swimming as many laps as he had time for, grabbing a sandwich from the doorman as he ran out the door, and eating his lunch as he ran back down to the docks.
Such a routine must have agreed with Budd Goodwin, who won 19 National AAU gold medals, the first in 1901 and the last in 1915. He won his only Olympic gold medal in water polo at the 1904 Games in St. Louis as his father’s ferry boat routine hardly allowed for trips abroad even in 1908, which would have been Budd’s best Olympic year.
In the first decade of this century, heroes of the sporting world were immortalized on colored cards slipped into each pack of Mecca cigarettes. The back of Budd Goodwin’s card read as follows: “Budd Goodwin, of the New York Athletic Club, is in all probability the best all-round swimmer in the United States, having won over 50 Metropolitan and National championships. Goodwin won his first National championship at the half mile in 1901. In 1905 he was quarter-mile champion, in 1907, half-mile champion, and in 1908, he probably scored his greatest victories, winning the 500-yard indoor National championship, the 500 yard Metropolitan championship, the half-mile National championship, the one-mile Metropolitan, the five-mile and the Marathon race from the Battery to Coney Island.”
Goodwin’s swimming career nearly ended in 1906 with a severe case of blood poisoning that called for amputation of his left arm. Fortunately Dr. Dave Hennen, a NYAC club member, a swim enthusiast, and a famous surgeon, refused to acknowledge such a fate and stopped the flow of poison in a dramatic and unprecedented 80 minute operation in which he dissected the entire forearm, then re-assembled the veins, muscles and ligaments. Dr. Hennen stayed at Goodwin’s bedside four days until the crisis was past. Budd was soon back in the water but not in time to try for the 1906 Olympics, dominated by his NYAC teammate Charlie Daniels and Englishman Henry Taylor, two swimming immortals Goodwin now joins in the Hall of Fame.
Goodwin won a Congressional Medal for bravery (the USA’s highest peacetime award) for a daring sea rescue off Newport News, Virginia. He ended his competitive career in 1922 but was still swimming well into his seventies. Retired and living in Palm Beach, Budd would walk a couple of miles to St. Edward’s church every morning, then on the way back he would stop at the Breakers Golf Course and pull a midiron and ball out of the bushes where he would have them hidden — and do nine holes in better than the average golfer and never lose the ball. He would re-hide his club and ball, then come to the Sea Spray and swim a mile in better than average time. He was Palm Beach County’s first Red Cross 50 mile recipient.
Budd Goodwin’s son was a national amateur golf champion but no one ever found out whether he was forced to do it the hard way or whether Budd let him sharpen his putting with daily practice on the deck of the family ferry boat.