1882. The Harvard College Athletic Committee votes to require all those interested in the rowing team to learn to swim. (The very first swimming races probably occurred in the murky waters of the Charles River before this date.)
1900 — A New York Times articles notes the existence of a Harvard swimming team that intends to enter meets held by the Boston Athletic Association and other clubs throughout the winter. However, the team decides against sending a relay to compete at the Sportsmen’s Exhibition in Boston against teams from Yale, Columbia, Princeton and Penn.
1902 — The Athletic Committee approves the formation of a swimming and water polo club. According to The New York Times, the Athletic Committee gave permission f0r Harvard to compete against Penn, Columbia and Yale. In the next couple of decades, such teams compete in unsanctioned intercollegiate meets against other colleges, training at the “Big Tree Pool” on Holyoke Street and holding competitions at the Brookline Municipal Pool.
1919. The swimming-test requirement is extended to all undergraduates.
1923. A university report endorses the construction of “a large modern pool.”
1924. First swimming meet approved by the NCAA is held at the U.S. Naval Academy. One-hundred athletes from 14 schools attend.
1929. Harold S. Ulen of Syracuse University is named Harvard swimming coach. He forms a preliminary team, training at the tiny Big Tree pool on Holyoke Street and one night a week at the Boston YMCA.
1930. The Indoor Athletic Building (a.k.a. “the Blockhouse” or “IAB”) opens on Holyoke Street, built with major gifts from anonymous donors who are later revealed to be Dr. Ernest Stillman (1908) and Arthur W. Stevens (1897). Harvard’s first sanctioned intercollegiate meet is held January 9 vs. Bowdoin.
1935. The Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League is formed, comprising Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, Penn and Navy.
1936. Charles G. Hutter (1938) wins the 100-yard free (52.9) at the NCAA championships, becoming Harvard’s first NCAA champion. He also competes in the Olympics in Berlin, winning a silver medal as a member of the U.S. 4×100-meter freestyle relay team. University of Texas coach Tex Robertson invents the flip turn while training Adolph Kiefer for the ’36 Games.
1937. Harvard ends Yale’s 164-dual-meet-victory string, 39-36, in Cambridge.
1938. William E. “Digger” Kendall (1940) wins the 220-yard free (2:12.0) and 440-yard free (4:48.9) at the NCAA championships. A Harvard Student Council report recommends upgrading swimming to a “major” sport, permitting team members to win the major ‘H.’
1948. Forbes Norris (1949) finishes sixth in the 1500 meter freestyle at the London Olympics.
1952. David F. Hawkins (1956) competes for Australia in the Melbourne Olympics at the age of 18.
1954. David F. Hawkins (1956) is NCAA champion in the 100 breaststroke (59.4) and 200 breaststroke (2:15.4). The butterfly stroke with dolphin kick is accepted at the Olympics for the first time.
1957. H. Chouteau Dyer (1957) wins the 100 free (49.4) at the NCAAs.
1959. Harold Ulen retires as head coach with a record of 225-44 and turns the program over to his assistant of 13 years, Bill Brooks.
1960. Bruce Hunter wins the 50-yard free (21.9) at the NCAA Championships, then joins the U.S. Olympic team competing in Rome, where he finishes 4th in the 100 meter free. Before entering Harvard, Neville Hayes (1967) competes for Australia in the Rome Olympics. Freddie Elizalde (1962) competes for the Philippines in Rome.
1961. The 4×100 free relay team of Bob Kaufmann, Alan Engleberg, Bill Zentgraf and Bruce Hunter wins the NCAA championship.
1962. Harvard ends Yale’s 24-year dominance of the Crimson in dual meets, stunning the Elis 48-47 at New Haven.
1964. Frank Gorman (1960) wins the silver medal in the 3-meter springboard diving event at the Tokyo Olympics.
1971. Bill Brooks retires at head coach with a record of 87-30. He is replaced by Don Gambril of Cal State, Long Beach. The Indoor Athletic Building (later, Malkin Athletic Center) begins a 30-day trial of mixed-gender swimming.
1972. Freshmen become eligible for varsity participation in the 1972-73 season. David Brumwell (1975) represents Canada and Neil Martin (1977) represents Australia at the Munich Olympics.
1973. Don Gambril departs as head coach, taking the head coaching job at the University of Alabama. Ray Essick of Southern Illinois University is hired to replace him. Harvard secures its first electronic timing system for meets.
1976. Ray Essick departs as head coach to become national competitive swimming administrator for the AAU after compiling a 26-1 dual meet record. Joe Bernal of Fordham University is hired to replace him. As a 16-year-old, Robert W. Hackett (1981) wins the silver medal in the 1500 meter free at the Montreal Olympics. Paco Canales (1978) competes for Puerto Rico and Tuomo Kerola (1981) swims for Finland at the Games.
1977. The Yale meet in March (won by Harvard) marks the final intercollegiate competition at the Indo0r Athletic Building after 37 years of meet service.
1978. Blodgett Pool is dedicated at the Soldier’s Field complex before a dual meet with Princeton, won by Harvard. The primary donor is John W. Blodgett Jr. (1932).
1980. Harvard stuns swimming powerhouse Indiana, 67-46, in Cambridge to end the Hoosiers’ 140-meet victory run. The NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships are held at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool.
1981. Robert W. Hackett (1981) ends a stellar collegiate swimming career after setting eight Harvard records, earning 12 All-America selections and winning 10 Eastern titles.
1982. Dan Watson (1985) wins the AAU national championship in the 10-meter diving.
1984. Michael Miao (1984) competes for Taiwan in the Los Angeles Olympics.
1986. The Harvard team wins an unprecedented eighth-straight Easterns title.
1987. David Berkoff (1989) wins the NCAA championship in the 100-yard backstroke (48.2).
1988. David Berkoff (1989) wins the silver medal at the Seoul Olympics in the 100 meter backstroke and a gold as a member of the 4×100 medley relay.
1989. David Berkoff (1989) wins the NCAA championship in the 100-yard backstroke (47.02).
1991. Joe Bernal departs as head coach. He is succeeded by Michael Chasson, assistant women’s coach at Stanford University.
1992. David Berkoff (1989) wins the bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics in the 100 meter back and swims on the gold-medal 4×100 medley relay. Laurent Alfred (1996) and Kris Singleton (1993) compete for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Simon Wainwright (1993) competes for Great Britain.
1993. Harvard wins the first Harvard-Yale-Princeton tri-meet, held in New Haven.
1996. Pingtjan Thum (2000) competes for Singapore in the Atlanta Olympics.
2000. Michael Kiedel (1998) competes for Germany in the Sydney Olympics, swimming on the 4 x 200 free relay.
2005. John Cole (2005) completes an unprecedented set of victories in the Easterns by capturing first in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle events for the fourth time.
2009. John Craig (1976) sets a Masters world record in the 200 meter short-course butterfly in the 55-59 age group.
2010. Alex Meyer (2010) wins the gold medal in the 25-kilometer FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships at Roberval, Quebec.
2011. Alex Meyer (2010) earns a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 10K swim by placing 4th at the world 10K championships at Shanghai.
2012. Former Harvard captains Charlie Egan ’54 and son Peter Egan ’86 make a gift to the university to endow the Harvard Men’s Swimming coaching position so that the team may exist in perpetuity. Selflessly, they name the position the Ulen-Brooks Endowed Coach for Harvard Men’s Swimming and Diving after the team’s first two coaches. Alex Meyer (2010) places 10th in the London Olympics 10K Marathon swim.
2013. Coach Tim Murphy departs for Penn State after 14 years guiding the Crimson program. Kevin Tyrrell, Associate Head Coach, takes command for the 2013-14 season.
2014. The Crimson capture the Ivy Championship at Blodgett. Kevin Tyrrell is officially named head coach. The University endows the diving coach position under Coach Keith Miller.