Charles Daniels was the first great American swimmer, perfecting the forward crawl, becoming the first American swimmer to win Olympic gold, rewriting world records and catapulting the United States into a swimming power.
“Charles’s contribution to the stroke involved the way he did the kicking,” said Steve McCormick, Daniels great grandson. “For each arm stroke, three flutter kicks.”
Daniels made his Olympic debut at the St. Louis 1904 Olympic Games, where he dominated the freestyle competition, winning gold in the 200- and 400-meter races, silver in the 100 and bronze in the 50, as well as winning a relay gold. Those races were held not in a pool, but at the Forest Park lake.
During his career, Daniels held the unusual distinction of setting the world record of every distance from the 25-yard sprint to the one-mile swim. During one four-day stretch in 1905, he set 14 world records.
At the London 1908 Olympic Games, Daniels took gold in the 100-meter freestyle and won bronze in the 800-meter freestyle relay.
But Daniels was not just a swimmer. He also was a bridge and squash champion at the New York Athletic Club and became an excellent golfer as well.