Hall of Fame

John Morgan

Swimming

Paralympian in Stoke Mandeville/New York 1984 Paralympic Games, Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games

Birthplace:
San Gabriel, California
College:
Golden West Junior College
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Berkeley

hall of fame

John Morgan

Swimming

Paralympian in Stoke Mandeville/New York 1984 Paralympic Games, Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games

Birthplace:
San Gabriel, California
College:
Golden West Junior College
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Berkeley
A competitive swimmer, John Morgan lost his eyesight as a teenager after an accident while working out. He eventually got back in the pool and won 15 Paralympic medals, 13 of them gold.
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Growing up in Southern California, it seemed only natural that John Morgan learned to swim in the Pacific Ocean.

“I lived close to the beach and my parents took me to the ocean when I was a baby,” Morgan said. “I loved the beach and water. I could hear the waves from my house. I learned how to swim on the beach and at the pool. I was on a swim team at a local club when I was 10. I was also a junior lifeguard.”

Morgan’s father was from Argentina and the family moved there in the mid-1970s. Morgan swam competitively there as well, completing a 20-kilometer swim. But one day when working out, Morgan was using a springed exerciser that snapped. It impacted his face with such force that he was left with two detached retinas.

Morgan’s eyesight deteriorated. Even after four surgeries he could only to see the difference between black and white. Eventually he was totally blind.

I was convinced that was it for my athletic career,” Morgan said. “I had spent two years recuperating from surgical operations and, for me, it was a particularly difficult rehabilitation. I thought it was over for me.”

As his eyesight deteriorated, Morgan stayed away from the pool. He was afraid of the water. But one day his parents read about a swim meet for handicapped athletes and convinced Morgan to attend. Hearing the sounds of similar athletes in action, Morgan was hooked. “I got back in the pool that day,” he said.

It did not take long for Morgan to figure things out, quickly relearning his strokes. He enrolled at Golden West Junior College in 1982 and joined the swim team, coached by three-time Olympic gold medalist Shirley Babashoff. Two years later, he competed in the International Games for the Disabled (now called the Paralympics) in New York and won five gold medals. In 1988, Morgan skipped the Paralympics while working on his master’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley. In the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, Morgan was dominant, winning eight gold medals and two silver medals.

Among Morgan’s other accomplishments, he did a 58-kilometer river swim, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, hiked the Appalachian Trail and participated in tandem cycling. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that his second ride was 100 kilometers long.

MEDAL RESULTS
1984New York City100m ButterflyGold
1984New York City100m FreestyleGold
1984New York City200m Individual MedleyGold
1984New York City400m FreestyleGold
1984New York City400m Individual MedleyGold
1992Barcelona50m FreestyleGold
1992Barcelona100m BackstrokeGold
1992Barcelona100m ButterflyGold
1992Barcelona100m FreestyleGold
1992Barcelona200m BackstrokeGold
1992Barcelona200m Individual MedleyGold
1992Barcelona400m FreestyleGold
1992Barcelona400m Individual MedleyGold
1992Barcelona100m BreaststrokeSilver
1992Barcelona200m BreaststrokeSilver
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