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Joseph Thomas "Joe" Verdeur (March 7, 1926 – August 6, 1991) was an American competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder.

Joe Verdeur
Joe Verdeur 1949.jpg
Verdeur in 1949
Personal information
Full nameJoseph Thomas Verdeur
National team United States
Born(1926-03-07)March 7, 1926
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.[1]
DiedAugust 6, 1991(1991-08-06) (aged 65)
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
College teamLa Salle University


Verdeur was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had a sister, Theresa, and a brother, Edward. His mother was Polish American, who was born in Poland as Sophie Machalowska. His father died when Joseph was six years old.[15] Verdeur attended North Catholic High School in Philadelphia, and led the North Catholic Falcons swim team to three consecutive Catholic League championships and two city championships. He was also a two-time first-team All-Catholic swimmer.

While attending La Salle University, he set nineteen world and twenty-one American records swimming for the La Salle Explorers and was a four time All-American.[15] His first world record came on April 5, 1946 breaking Alfred Nakache's 200 meter breaststroke record of 2:36.8 set in a long course pool. Verdeur set the record with a time of 2:35.6 in Bainbridge's 25 yard indoor pool at the National AAU Indoor Championships. FINA at the time recognized the world record in either short course (25 meter) or long course (50 meter) pools.[16] Verdeur subsequently continued to reset this world record several times over in short course pools. His final world record came in the 1950 National AAU Indoor Championships in the 220 yard breaststroke (short course). This race was dual timed for both the 200 meter and 220 yard distances (short course). During the race, Verdeur broke the world record for 200 meters with a time of 2:28.3. However, Robert Brawner won the race with a time of 2:29.3 for the full 220 yards beating Verdeur who was second in 2:29.4.[17] This record was superseded by Herbert Klein the next year in 1951.[18]

As a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, Verdeur won a gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke with a new Olympic record time of 2:39.3.[19][20] This was the first Olympics since Berlin, Germany in 1936 and did not include athletes from Germany and Japan who were banned from participating. He may well have won more medals in the butterfly and individual medley if these had been included at the time as he was a multiple national champion and record-breaker in both events.

At the US Olympic trials of the 1948 4x200-meter freestyle relay, Verdeur was one of several swimmers who had already qualified in other events who slowed down in their heats or swam fast in the prelims and scratched themselves for the final to allow more swimmers to qualify for the US Olympic Team.[21] Ultimately, coach Robert Kiphuth did hold a time trial shortly after the actual trials[22] with eleven of the swimmers. This time trial had Jimmy McLane as first overall with a time of 2:11.0, Bill Smith and Wally Wolf in 2:11.2, and Wally Ris in 2:12.4. This quartet was used for the Olympic final. The next four-Eugene Rogers in 2:14.2, Edwin Gilbert in 2:15.4, Robert Gibe in 2:15.6, and William Dudley in 2:15.9, were used in the Olympic prelims.[23] The next three swimmers-Joe Verdeur who came in 2:16.3, Alan Ford in 2;16.4 and George Hoogerhyde in 2:17.4 were not used in any capacity in the 4x200 freestyle relay.

Verdeur was named Swimmer of the Year by Sport Magazine in 1948 and 1949. He graduated from LaSalle in 1950. Sportswriter Grantland Rice called Verdeur "the greatest swimmer of the first half century."[24] Verdeur received two votes in the 1950 Associated Press Poll of the Greatest Swimmer of the Past 50 years.[25]

Verdeur was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1966,[26] the LaSalle University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1961,[24] North Catholic Hall of Fame in 1991, The Helms Foundation Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and the National Polish American Hall of Fame in 2009.[15] He died of cancer in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania in 1991, aged 65. He was survived by his wife Mary Ellen Verdeur and their five children.[15]

Record NotesEdit

The world record for the 200 meter breaststroke prior the bifurcation of the butterfly breaststroke into separate strokes in 1953 could be accomplished in either short or long course pools. FINA recognized only one world record for the 200 meter breaststroke. Thus, when Alfred Nakache set the world record for the 200 meter breaststroke in 1941 in an outdoor long course pool, it was broken by Joe Verdeur in a short course pool. If records were measured as they are today in long and short course pools, Verdeur broke Nakache's long course world record of 2:36.8 in 1948 at the US Olympic trials with a time of 2:36.3.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Joe Verdeur". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2012-11-13.
  2. ^ New York Times 1 April 1950 Page 23
  3. ^ New York Times 1 April 1950 Page 23
  4. ^ Times 20 August 1949 Page 15
  5. ^ New York Times 20 August 1949 Page 15
  6. ^ New York Times 2 April 1949 Page 19
  7. ^ New York Times 7 April 1945 Page 19
  8. ^ New York Times 7 April 1945 Page 19
  9. ^ New York Times 6 September 1943 Page 14
  10. ^ New York Times 25 March 1950 Page 155
  11. ^ New York Times 25 March 1950 Page 155
  12. ^ New York Times 24 December 1950 Page 78
  13. ^ New York Times 18 March 1950 Page 17
  14. ^ New York Times 18 March 1950 Page 17
  15. ^ a b c d Joe Verdeur – National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame profile
  16. ^ Los Angeles Times 6 April 1946 Page 7
  17. ^ New York Times 1 April 1950 Page 23
  18. ^ Los Angeles Times 10 June 1951 Page B12
  19. ^ New York Times 8 August 1948 Page S1
  20. ^, Olympic Sports, Swimming at the 1948 London Summer Games, Men's 200 metres breaststroke final standings Archived 2011-08-10 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  21. ^ New York Times 25 July 1948 Page S3
  22. ^ New York Times 28 July 1948 Page 29
  23. ^ Page 128 1948 US Olympic Book
  24. ^ a b Joseph Verdeur Class of 1950 – La Salle University Hall of Athletes profile
  25. ^ Los Angeles Times 8 February 1950 Page C2
  26. ^ Joe Verdeur (USA) – Honor Swimmer profile at International Swimming Hall of Fame
Preceded by

Alfred Nakache
Men's 200-meter breaststroke
world record-holder (short course)

April 5, 1946 – June 9, 1951
Succeeded by

Herbert Klein
Preceded by

Alfred Nakache
Men's 200-meter breaststroke
world record-holder (long course)

July 10, 1948 – June 9, 1951
Succeeded by

Herbert Klein
John Davies
Preceded by

Tetsuo Hamuro
Men's 200 m breaststroke
Olympic record-holder

August 7, 1948-July 28, 1952
Succeeded by

Jerry Holan
Preceded by
Men's 300-yard Individual Medley
American record-holder (short course)

April 1, 1949 – April 5, 1952
Succeeded by

Burwell Jones
Preceded by
Men's 150-yard Individual Medley
American record-holder (long course)

1949 – August 3, 1951
Succeeded by

Jimmy Thomas