Passages: 1960 200 Butterfly Olympic Gold Medalist Mike Troy Dies at 78
03 August 2019, 04:53pm
October 3, 1940 – August 3, 2019
Mike Troy picked up the dolphin butterfly stroke where Bill Yorzyk left off and it didn’t take long for the swimming world to find out it would take some kind of a horse to beat this Troy. He carried the butterfly standard to new World and Olympic records with heroic time drops before and during the 1960 Rome Olympics.
In Rome he doubled with a second Olympic gold medal for his 200 freestyle leg of the USA’s winning 4×200 freestyle relay. Troy helped this relay unseat the Australians and the Japanese who had taken turns owning the event since 1955. The Americans won the gold medal by three seconds over silver medal winning Japan with George Harrison, Dick Blick, Troy and Jeff Farrell.
Troy came up through the Park district swim program in Indianapolis and was discovered by Doc Barton and Jim Clark. He joined Frank McKinney, Bill Barton, Bill Cass and Marty Sommers as the high school boys who won the Nationals for Clark’s Indianapolis Athletic Club team in the 1950s. All five went on to Indiana to begin the Indiana University swimming dynasty coached by Doc Counsilman.
Troy was the second American to win the 200 butterfly Olympic gold medal after Yorzyk won the inaugural gold in 1956. He also won the silver in the 200 fly at the 1959 Pan American Games behind fellow American Dave Gillanders and was also on the gold medal winning 4×200 free relay team.
Following his retirement as a swimmer, Mike Troy became a Navy Seal and officer decorated for distinguished and heroic action in Vietnam with a star. When he got out of the service Troy settled in the San Diego area where he split his time between real estate and coaching.
Troy was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1971.
More Background on the Life of Mike Troy
Troy began swimming at the age of eight, by 12, he was asked to train with the famed Indiana Athletic Club, swimming with the likes of Frank McKinney, Bill Barton, Bill Cass and Alan Sommers, high schoolers at the time, but all would go on to become Olympians.
Troy was offered a scholarship to Indiana University to be coached by the legendary ISHOF Coach, Doc Counsilman, following his Indiana Athletic Club teammates. But before Troy even arrived in Bloomington, he won the AAU National Championship in the 100-meter butterfly. Next up were the U.S. Nationals where he won the 200-meter butterfly in world record time and took a second gold as part of the 800-meter freestyle relay.
In August 1960, he competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials, qualifying first in the 200-meter butterfly, his signature event, while also lowering his own world record. Mike and three of his teammates from the Indiana Athletic Club and Indiana University were headed to the 1960 Olympic Games.
In Rome, as part of the U.S. Olympic team, Troy won two gold medals, while breaking world records in each event. The first gold came in his 200-freestyle leg of the USA’s winning 800-meter freestyle relay. He helped the American relay unseat the Australians and Japanese who had taken turns owning the event since 1955. His second gold medal came in the 200-meter butterfly, where he had broken the world record in the event, six consecutive times in the last 14 months, while lowering the mark by over six seconds.
Troy finished his college career by helping IU win their first Big Ten Championship in 1961. He was named Team Captain as a Senior, competing in his final collegiate meet on March 2, 1962, where he went 52.9 in the 100-yd Butterfly, setting an American, NCAA and Big Ten Record.
Upon graduating college, Troy became a Naval Officer and a member of the Navy Underwater Demolition/SEALS. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was nominated for the Silver Star for distinguished and heroic service during the war.
Troy found his way to San Diego after leaving the service and settled there, working as a real estate agent and swim coach. He moved around the state and after being quite successful in real estate in California, he moved to Tempe, Arizona in 1990.
Through the years, Troy had developed many champions at all levels, age-group, junior and national champions. Many of his athletes have been named to national and international teams, including four Olympic Champions, Matt Biondi being one of them.
In the mid-1990’s, Troy decided to give up coaching and start teaching swim lessons at his own swim school. Troy described it as therapy for him. In the mid-1980’s, while he was living in Walnut Creek, California, coaching high schooler, Matt Biondi, he also became involved with helping people with disabilities in the pool. He decided to build the Gold Medal Swim School in the city of Chandler, Arizona, which opened in 1996.
Troy gave back to the sport that he loved so much by serving on different committees. He was Chairman of the International Section of the Olympic Committee and served as Vice President of the American Swimming Coaches Association. He served as the National Director of the USA Paralympic Swim Team in 2004, a team that travelled to the Athens Games and won numerous medals.
In 2004, Troy was named the National Teacher of the Year from the United States Swim School Association (USSSA)
More recently, Troy continued to focus on teaching people of all ages and disabilities, swimming, a sport that he believed could save lives.
He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)as an Honor Swimmer in December, 1971, and was the first of Doc Counsilman’s 17 Indiana swimmers to be inducted into ISHOF. Present for his induction was his roommate in San Diego, and fellow Frogman, Fred Schmidt, who flew in from Vietnam just for the occasion. Schmidt was the first frogman to reach and open both the Apollo 13 and 14 immediately after splashdown.
Troy was also inducted into the Indiana University Hall of Fame, and the Helms Arco Hall of Fame.