Michigan in the Olympics


1952 - Helsinki

Matt Mann was coach of the U.S. swimming team but only two of the five Wolverine Olympians were swimming for him. Mann coached the U-M swimming team from 1926 to 1954. His squads compiled a 201-25-3 meet record and captured 16 Big Ten and 13 NCAA titles. Australian John Davies won the only Michigan individual medal in Helsinki, a gold in the 200 meter breaststroke. Dick Papenguth, a U-M swimming letterman in 1923 and 1925, coached the U.S. women's team. Long-time coach at Purdue, Papenguth is credited as being "the first coach who worked college women hard" and coached many members of his Lafayette Swim Club to world records and national titles.

Matt Mann JohnDavies Dick Papenguth
Matt Mann, John Davies of Australia, Dick Papenguth

Burwell Jones, who would captain the 1954 U-M swim team, swam in the preliminaries of the 800 meter freestyle relay, helping to set an Olympic record in qualifying the U.S. team. He did not race in the finals, but watched his teammates set another Olympic record enroute to the gold medal. Ron Gora finished 8th in the 100 meter freestyle for the U.S.


Jones Ron Gora Jack Wardrop Bert Wardrop
Burwell "Bumpy" Jones, Ron Gora, Jack Wardrop, Bert Wardrop

Jack and Robert Wardrop, who would earn letters at Michigan in 1954 and 1955, competed for Great Britain. Jack placed 4th in the 400 meter freestyle and Robert managed a 7th in the 100 meter backstroke. Tony Turner, who would compete at U-M in 1958-59, was on the British diving squad, finishing 8th in springboard and 19th in high diving.

Four Michigan trackmen, Jack Carroll, John Ross, Roy Pella, and Pete Sutton made the Canadian Olympic team. Three of them had been or would be Big Ten champions: Carroll in the 440, 1953; Ross in the mile, 1952; Pella in the discus, 1954. Sutton, who earned his Olympic berth before coming to Michigan, lettered in1954. Don McEwen, 1951 Big Ten champion in the mile, was thought to have legitimate medal prospects in the 5000 meters but missed the games due to injury. A young Eeles Landstrom, who would enroll at U-M in 1956, represented Finland in the decathlon. He finished 14th overall, but won the pole vault and placed second in javelin competition. Michigan's international track contingent was rounded out by three time Big Ten shot put champion Fritz Nilsson who competed for Sweden.

Jack Carroll John Ross Roy Pella Don McEwen
Michigan's Canadian track men: Jack Carroll, John Ross, Roy Pella, Don McEwen


Landstrom Fritz Nilsson
Eeles Landstrom, Fritz Nilsson

Doug RobyIn 1952 Douglas Roby began a 34 year tenure on the U.S. Olympic Committee. Roby played fullback on Fielding Yost's football team and outfield for Ray Fisher's baseball squad in 1921 and 1922. He served several terms on the U-M Board in Control of Athletics and for two years was president of the National Amateur Athletic Union. Roby served as president of the U.S. Olympic Committee and for most of his time on the USOC was one of two U.S. representatives to the International Olympic Committee. At his death at age 94 in 1992, Roby was the oldest living U of M letterman.


The U-M Results - 1952

John Davies (Australia)
   200 m. breaststroke1st, 2:34.4, Olympic Record
Burwell "Bumpy"Jones
    800 m. freestyle relayset Olympic record in qualifying heat, but did not race in finals U.S. won gold
Ron Gora
   100 meter freestyle8th
Jack Wardrop (Great Britain)
   400 meter freestyle 5th
   100 meter freestylemade semi-finals
   800 m. freestyle relay6th
Robert Wardrop (Great Britain)
   100 meter backstroke7th
Tony Turner (Great Britain)
   springboard diving8th
   high diving19th
Jack Carroll (Canada)
   400 meterdid not make finals
   4x400 meter relay4th
John Ross (Canada)
   800 metersdid not place
    1500 metersdid not place
Roy Pella (Canada)
Walter "Pete" Sutton (Canada)
   100 metersdid not place
   200 metersdid not place
   4x100 m. relaydid not place
Fritz Nilsson (Sweden)
   shot put 5th
Eeles Landstrom (Finland)

Photo Credits:

Table of Contents | 1948-London | 1956-Melbourne | Name Index