Kenneth Treadway (USA)
Honor Contributor (1983)
Having been born in Oklahoma during the 1930’s into a Cherokee Indian Sharecropper family may cause one to ask, “How in the world did this guy become an inductee into the International Swimming Hall of Fame?” Buck Dawson would have answered that question by telling you, “He’s just a good ol’ country boy who loves people and swimming”.
Ken Treadway has received almost every award our sport has to offer, from receiving the AAU “Neptune” award in 1972, then swimming’s highest honor, to being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1983. Ken doesn’t need another award, in fact he recently donated some of the ones he did receive to ISHOF. But he does deserve to be remembered for all he has done for swimming. Because Ken and his wife Bettie don’t travel much anymore, Buck Dawson believed the Olympic Trials in Omaha, just a three hour drive from their home in Overland Park, Kansas, provided swimming with an opportunity to recognize and once again thank Ken for all he has done for swimming.
Over a span of 45 years Ken Treadway was a competitor, coach, official, chairman of state, national and Olympic Committees as well as an employee of the Phillips Petroleum Company. He founded the Phillips 66 Splash Club, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1950 and the team is still one of the most successful swimming organizations in history. He then went on to found the successful Phillips 66 Long Beach Aquatic Club with Coach Don Gambril.
He persuaded his company to sponsor an annual swim meet and in 1963 this led to Phillips’ hosting four national swimming championships. In 1972, Ken and Dr. John Bogert, another “Red Man,” developed a plan to become a National Sponsor of Swimming. The sponsorship started in 1973 and today ConocoPhillips’ sponsorship of USA Swimming is the longest continuous corporate sponsorship of any amateur sport in America.
It was Ken and the late Dr. Hal Henning who had the honor of representing the United States at the FINA meeting when the International Swimming Hall of Fame was approved by that international body of aquatics.
Coach Peter Daland can tell stories all night about his and Ken’s travels around the world in support of a program Ken started called “Coaching The Coaches”. Both of them were great international ambassadors for the country, for ISHOF, for the American Swimming Coaches Association, for AAU Swimming and their sponsor, ConocoPhillips. In fact one of their sojourns was requested by the U. S. Department of State!
Treadway’s ability to get right at the crux of a problem, and then lead parties to an effective diplomatic compromise, endeared him to the swimming world, created advancement for him at Phillips and led to his selection as a member of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team’s Staff in Tokyo, Mexico City and Munich.
Not the least of his accomplishments was finding a pathway for swimming and diving to operate in a high level business- like manner and to enhance their image without “passing the plate” at swim meets.
In 1983, he was inducted into the ISHOF as an Honoree Contributor, and now, we take time to remember and honor him again with ISHOF’s President’s Award.