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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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Robert Kiphuth, Yale's swimming coaching legend

Legendary Yale swimming coach Robert Kiphuth was 76 years-old and eight years retired when he attended the Bulldogs’ meet against Army on the afternoon of Jan. 7, 1967.

Two of Kiphuth’s greatest prodigies were being honored for their recent induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame: Alan Ford, the first man to crack 50 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle, and Steve Clark, world-record holder in the 100-meter freestyle.

A Yale victory that avenged a rare loss a year earlier to the Cadets bolstered the special day. Kiphuth, whose Yale teams almost never lost in his 42 years as coach, left a happy man.

That night, he was stricken at his Hamden home and died of heart failure. The sport of swimming had lost one of its true pioneers.

“There will be no phase of his life which will not mourn his death,” Register columnist Bill Ahern wrote. “In swimming, he was the widest known; in physical education, he was the authority of his generation; in politics, he was the toast of kingdoms and republics; in the arts, he was a self-taught expert.

“He came to New Haven to teach and instruct physical education at Yale. He retired a professor, world reknowned in the sport of swimming, which he almost alone revolutionized.”

Read Chip Malafronte's complete story.

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