Oldest U.S. Olympic Champion, Adolph Kiefer, Dies

May 7, 2017
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

A moment now to remember a fallen Olympian - Adolph Kiefer died this week at his Illinois home. He was 98. Kiefer won the gold medal for the 100-meter backstroke at the 1936 Berlin Games. He was also an avid inventor and longtime businessman. His self-named company produced the first nylon swimsuit as well as other swimming products, like starting blocks and lifesaving equipment.

Kiefer enlisted in the Navy in 1944, and he trained his fellow sailors on his victory backstroke, which saved thousands of lives towards the end of World War II when the U.S. was suffering thousands of casualties from drowning. It was later taught as a lifesaving technique by the American Red Cross. His grandson Robin Kiefer told the AP that his grandfather considered that his greatest achievement, hands down. And why was Adolph Kiefer so drawn to the backstroke. He settled on it as a kid, he said, because he didn't like getting water up his nose. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.