A true champion in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Jim was the first man ever to break 50 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle. Breaking this barrier was equivalent to Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile in track. (See race below or click here.)
Jim won two more golds and a bronze in the 1976 Olympics, but his record as king of the World Championships is still more remarkable. He won a record five gold medals in the first World Championships at Belgrade in 1973 and repeated with four gold medals, a silver and a bronze in Cali 1975 and Berlin 1978.
After his retirement from college and USA swimming, Jim went on to win 14 Masters World Championships from 1986 to 2002. He began competing in ocean races in the 1980s and in 1986, he won the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim.