Blogs > New Haven 200 at 200

The New Haven Register sports department is celebrating our 200th birthday by sharing 200 of the most interesting stories relating to sports in Greater New Haven over the past 200 years. Check back daily for historical updates.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Allen Stack: Yale's first Olympic gold medal swimmer

This summer’s Olympics take place in London.

The last time England’s capital city played host to the Olympic games, a 6-foot-5 backstroker by the name of Allen Stack became Yale’s first swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal. Stack won the 100-meter backstroke in 1948.

Along with that feat, Stack is known for transforming the backstroke.

“Allen had a unique stroke,” Phil Moriarty, who served as an assistant coach when Stack swam at Yale, told the New York Times. “He would put his arm in the water and pull through like a normal backstroker, but as he brought the arm to his side he would bend it a little at the elbow and push with his hands toward his feet. That created practically a brand-new stroke. Allen’s bend and his push are what everyone is doing today. It’s the logical way to go.”

There is a pair of interesting stories behind Stack’s two Olympic appearances.

Read Chris Hunn's complete story.

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