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Thread: U. Pitt All-American Ronald Gainsford, 79

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    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    U. Pitt All-American Ronald Gainsford, 79

    If any of you out there know any swimmers who swam NCAAs in 1952-1954, or swam for University of West Virginia 1955-1959, could you steer them in the direction of my blog? http://www.usms.org/forums/blog.php?b=1093

    It's a short profile and tribute to Ronald Gainsford, 79, who is a teammate of mine, former All American butterflier, heart transplant recipient, and all around great guy.

    I think there is a good chance that some of his former U. Pitt teammates, or some of the the guys he competed against, as well as some of those he coached while at U.W.VA, would remember Ron and possibly even drop him a postcard.

    Thanks!

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    Very Active Member mermaid's Avatar
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    Re: U. Pitt All-American Ronald Gainsford, 79

    I love Ron!
    Come live with me in the sea said she,
    Down on the ocean floor
    And I'll show you many's a wonderous thing
    That you've never seen before

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    Re: U. Pitt All-American Ronald Gainsford, 79

    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton View Post
    If any of you out there know any swimmers who swam NCAAs in 1952-1954, or swam for University of West Virginia 1955-1959, could you steer them in the direction of my blog? http://www.usms.org/forums/blog.php?b=1093

    It's a short profile and tribute to Ronald Gainsford, 79, who is a teammate of mine, former All American butterflier, heart transplant recipient, and all around great guy.

    I think there is a good chance that some of his former U. Pitt teammates, or some of the the guys he competed against, as well as some of those he coached while at U.W.VA, would remember Ron and possibly even drop him a postcard.

    Thanks!
    Jim:

    Thanks for sharing your story about Ron with us. I did look him up in the 1952 Olympic Trials results here http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/_...d0712/1952.pdf but could not find his name in the results. Also they took the first thru 3rd places at Olympic Trials for the individual Olympic events and they did not change to the 2 place format until 1960 and 1964. They resumed the 3 places from 1968 until 1980 and starting in 1984 its been 2 places to date.

    However I did find him in the results of the 1953 NCAA Championships and he was 4th swimming the 100 yard breast swimming for Pitt. His time was 1:01.4 and the winner is listed at 1:00.7 and these were manual times. I would also like to point out that in this meet most if not all of the swimmers were swimming over arm recovery fly with a frog kick or whats known in masters swimming as butterfrog so this was more fly than breaststroke even though its listed as breaststroke.

    The winner of this 100 yard breast event was Robert Clemons at 1:00.7 followed by Dennis O'Connor at 1:00.5 and in 3rd place was Gerald Holan at 1:01.2 and then Ron Gainsford in 4th. Notice the faster time in 2nd place because of human timing and judges decisions. This used to happen all the time until electronic timing became the primary device over human hand timing. When I think of this I think of Lance Larson vs John Devitt in the 100 meter Free in the 1960 Olympics and how a decision over ruled a human timing. It took about 12 years to get rid of judges decisions.

    I noticed two swimmers in that 1953 NCAA meet that are currently swimming masters that were great swimmers back then and great right now still setting World Records. The two are Yoshi Oyakawa and Burrwell (Bumpy Jones) and they both swam in that era and I am sure Ron knows or knows of them. Also in that era was John Davies who swam for Michigan and the country of Australia. He won a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics in the same event Ron swam (200 Breast) and today is a Federal Court Judge in southern California.

    Next weekend I will see your old swim coach Gus Stager and see if he remembers Ron and see if there are more swimmers from that era and where they are. By the way Gus Stager picture is in the current issue of Swimming World magazine next to Mark Spitz. When I see him I will tell him how your doing and still going strong in masters swimming. I know he remembers you.
    Skip Thompson

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    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    Re: U. Pitt All-American Ronald Gainsford, 79

    Skip, your encyclopedic knowledge of swimming never ceases to amaze me!

    Thanks for the history and background. I will definitely show this to Ronald the next time I see him.

    He has told me that he definitely swam what is now known as butterfrog--at the time, breast and fly were a combined stroke. There is a colossal pool here in our area, the North Park pool, which was built during the previous Great Depression as part of the WPA. It's 50 meters wide and, I am pretty sure, 100 yards long. Ronald told me they once held a meet there, and he raced the 150 IM (and I think won it) -- three lengths of this humongous outdoor pool.

    Definitely say hello to Gus Stager for me, and tell him I am proud to have swum for Michigan, albeit for only one year, and albeit as the second worst person on the team!

    That is more than Michael Phelps can say!

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