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1936 Olympic swim champion still in pool daily at 95

Jun 23, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

Adolph Kiefer Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine Michael Phelps swimming in the year 2080.

But that would be the equivalent of what Adolph Kiefer does every day. Kiefer won 100m backstroke gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics presided over by Adolf Hitler.

He is 95 now and still spends an hour in the pool daily, swimming “au naturel” unless visitors are present, according to the Chicago Tribune. He has neuropathy in his hands and legs.

“Oh, this is heaven,” he told the newspaper of being in the water. “How could you be without this?”

Kiefer was 17 at the 1936 Olympics and would go on to hold world records in every backstroke event. He met Hitler and shook his hand.

“If I would have known then what we found out later, I would’ve thrown him in the pool,” Kiefer told the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.

There were no Olympics in 1940 or 1944 due to World War II. So, Kiefer turned down the Hollywood role of Tarzan, opting to become Lt. Kiefer, the officer in charge of swimming for the U.S. Navy. He’s credited with teaching thousands swim safety and how to survive in the water.

He later created his own business, Kiefer & Associates, whose swim products included lane lines, kickboards and racing suits.

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  1. mogogo1 - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Fascinating man. Good for him and all he has done.

  2. bellerophon30 - Jun 28, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    This man clearly needs a 30 for 30 documentary on him. Isn’t he the oldest surviving Olympian for the US? He has to be, right? The stories he must have to tell.

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