(This is part of a special series on Hawkeye Olympic medalists.)
Bowen Stassforth was born in Los Angeles, but he came to Iowa to compete for legendary Hawkeye swimming coach David Armbruster. Coach Armbruster helped found the Hawkeye swimming program in 1917 and served as the program’s first coach. He continued in that capacity for an astonishing 42 years, retiring from coaching in 1958.
Stassforth proved to be a valuable member of Armbruster’s Hawkeye teams. He was named an All-American in eight events during his career at Iowa from 1949-1952 and broke 16 American records.
Bowen Stassforth qualified for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, in the 200-meter breaststroke. He claimed the silver medal in the event, finishing just three tenths of a second away from a gold. Charles Roeser, the chairman of the U.S. Olympic men’s swimming committee, called him “one of the most cooperative athletes I have ever known in thirty years of teaching and coaching.” He also called him “America’s greatest breaststroke champion, but more than that, a real American and gentleman whose conduct is a worthy example for others to follow.”
Filed under: Other Hawkeye Sports
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