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Buster Crabbe Second from left, with Duke P. Kahanamoku, far left , Harold "Stubby" Kruger, far right, and an unidentified Red Cross boy scout, at the Olympic tryouts, Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Crabbe, Buster (07 February 1908–23 April 1983), athlete and motion picture actor, was born Clarence Linden Crabbe in Oakland, California, the son of Edward Crabbe and Agnes McNamara. When Crabbe was two, the family moved to Hawaii, where his father was overseer of a pineapple plantation. There Crabbe’s natural abilities in many sports brought him the lifelong nickname of “Buster.” He earned sixteen sports letters in high school, set thirty-five national and sixteen world swimming records during his years in sports competition, and was a member of the U.S. swimming team for the Olympics of 1928 (Amsterdam) and 1932 (Los Angeles). He received a B.A. from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1932. In the Olympics that same year he crowned his athletic career by winning the gold medal for the 400-meter freestyle event, coming in first by one-tenth of a second. “That one-tenth of a second changed my life,” he said ( ...

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Daniels, Charles Meldrum (24 March 1885–09 August 1973), swimmer, was born in Dayton, Ohio. Nothing is known of his parentage or early education. His Olympic career began at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri, where he won three gold, one silver, and one bronze medal. The gold medals came for his performances in the 220-yard freestyle, the 440-yard freestyle, and on the winning 4 ×  50-yard freestyle relay team; the silver medal was won in the 100-yard freestyle, behind Hungary’s Zoltán von Halmay; and the bronze was earned in the 50-yard freestyle behind von Halmay and the American J. Scott Leary. Daniels also competed in the Intercalated Olympics of 1906 in Athens, where he won the 100-meter freestyle. He defended that title at the 1908 Olympics in London and added another bronze medal in the 4 ×  200-meter freestyle relay....

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Duke Kahanamoku. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-115293).

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Kahanamoku, Duke Paoa (24 August 1890–22 January 1968), Olympic swimming champion and world-recognized surfer, was born and raised in the old Kalia District of Honolulu near the present location of the Hawaiian Village Hotel, the son of Halapu Kahanamoku, a police officer, and Paakonia Lonokahikini Paoa, or Julia. He was named after his father, who had been christened “Duke” by Princess Bernice ...

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Kealoha, Warren Daniels (03 March 1904–08 September 1972), Olympic gold medal swimmer, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, then a territory of the United States, and was adopted by Kaio and Kaai Kealoha, who were relatives of his Hawaiian mother. His father was a foreigner or “haole,” surnamed Daniels. Kealoha attended St. Louis and Punahou Schools and learned to swim in a pond known as “Blue Pool.” Some biographies have erroneously referred to him as the brother of Pua Kealoha, also a gold medal swimmer from Hawaii in the 1920 Olympic Games, but the two were not related....

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Kiphuth, Robert John Herman (17 November 1890–07 January 1967), swimming coach and athletic director, was born in Tonawanda, New York, the son of John Kiphuth, a mill hand, and Mary Benin. After graduating from Tonawanda High School in 1909, he became physical education director at the Tonawanda Young Men’s Christian Association. He studied physical education at Harvard in the summer of 1912....

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Kurtz, Frank (1911–31 October 1996), athlete, military aviator, was born Frank Allen Kurtz in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Frank Kurtz, Sr., an insurance salesman, and Dora Kurtz (maiden name unknown). His parents divorced shortly after he was born. Kurtz ran away from home at the age of twelve to hawk newspapers in Kansas City, Missouri. Possessed of youthful dynamism, he was soon featured in the ...

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Johnny Weissmuller Renewing his Red Cross Life Saving Corps membership, with Marian Levin of the Chicago Chapter of the Red Cross at left, and Weissmuller's coach, William Bachrach, at right, 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113058).

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Weissmuller, Johnny (02 June 1904–20 January 1984), swimmer and actor, was born Janos Weissmuller in Freidorf, Romania (then Austria-Hungary), the son of Peter Weissmuller, a miner, and Elizabeth Kersh, a cook. The Weissmullers immigrated to the United States with seven-month-old Janos, renaming him Johann. After a short time in Windber, Pennsylvania, the family moved to Chicago. When Weissmuller qualified for the 1924 U.S. Olympic team, Illinois congressman Henry Rathbone questioned his citizenship. Using his brother’s Pennsylvania baptismal records, the champion swimmer obtained his American passport under the name Peter John Weissmuller. His given name and European birth remained largely unknown until after his death....