Clarence Ross (USA)
Honor Pioneer Swimmer (1988)
FOR THE RECORD: 220 yd Champion record holder of the East in high school and in college, in the years just before the NCAA Nationals began; NATIONAL RECORDS: 1925-1926 (3 miles, 5 miles); 1926 won first President’s Cup in the Potomac; won first competition race around Manhattan Island; began Masters swimming in 1972.
Clarence Ross should be known as “Man of the Century in U.S. Swimming” as both he and the century started at the same time and are still going strong in the late ’80s. Ross’ records started as a high school swimmer. He was the 220 yard champion record holder of the East in high school and in college, in the years just before the NCAA Nationals began in 1924. On graduating from Rutgers in 1923, he gave up the 220 freestyle and began distance swimming. He won the U.S. National A.A.U. ten mile, and set A.A.U. National records in five miles and three miles (1925-26). In 1926 he won the first President’s Cup in the Potomac and then wound up his amateur long distance career by winning the first competition race around Manhattan Island.
In WWII, Commander Ross, age 47, was the Navy’s 440 freestyle champion of the South Pacific. His Master’s swimming started in 1972, and seemed indestructible until he was mugged one night on the streets of Newark, New Jersey. Taken unconscious to a hospital emergency room, they checked his low heart rate and put in a pacemaker. Ross came to and informed the astonished doctors what his resting athlete’s pulse rate should be (42), but the pacemaker was already in. Swimmer Ross, not the pacemaker, was the miracle of modern medicine and his Masters National swimming record stands at 123 wins in 125 races.