Austin's Olympic Gold Medal Finds a Home at Yale

Austin's Olympic Gold Medal Finds a Home at Yale

June 3, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - In a special ceremony in the Kiphuth Trophy Room at Yale's Payne Whitney Gym Saturday afternoon, former Yale swimming team captain Mike Austin '64 donated his gold medal from the 1964 Olympics to his alma mater.

"What better place for [the medal] to be than where my swimming reached its peak with a fantastic coach," Austin said. His mentor with the Bulldogs, 92-year-old Phil Moriarty, was one of over 100 people jammed into the room for the ceremony.

"Sometimes things are best not to be held on to, but to be passed on," Austin added. "Yale and Yale swimming have been a very important part of my life, and always will be."

Austin won the gold medal in Tokyo as a member of the USA's 400-meter world record freestyle relay team. He was inspired to donate it to Yale after one of his relay teammates, Steve Clark '65, did so with his last year. The relay team also included Don Schollander '68 and Gary Ilman.

Yale Swimming Association Preisdent John Lapides `72 introduced Austin. "Mike Austin means a lot to Yale swimming, and he means a lot to Yale, but he also means a lot to me," Lapides said. Lapides grew up coming to Yale swim meets and aspired to be a Bulldog like Austin.

"I met him at his 25th reunion and he was as nice as could be, and as modest as you could ever imagine," Lapides said.

Moriarty, who took over as head coach just as Austin joined the team, also spoke highly of him.

"He carried me with him and he made a name for me," Moriarty said. "He got it rolling."

Austin captained Yale's 1964 team, when the Bulldogs placed first at the EISL Championship and 3rd at the NCAAs. He anchored the American-record 400 freestyle championship relay in 1963 at Senior Nationals. He also won the 1964 NCAA championship in the 50 freestyle and was an anchor of Yale's NCAA championship and NCAA record-setting 400 freestyle relays in 1963 and 1964, swimming perhaps the fastest relay splits in history.

A relative unknown at the national level at first, Austin burst onto the scene as a freshman when he broke and held briefly the American record for the 100 freestyle, swimming a 47.7 lead-off relay leg during the 1961 Senior National AAUs. In 1962, he set an NCAA record for the 100 freestyle of 47.0 in the famous Yale-Harvard dual meet. He was Eastern champion in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle in 1962.

Austin serves as Chief Financial Officer for Strategic Science and Technologies, LLC, a bio-tech company in Cambridge, Mass., that develops trans-dermal products. He recently returned to the U.S. after working abroad for many years.

The Bulldogs have captured 60 individual NCAA championships and four team national titles, while swimmers from Yale have won 19 Olympic medals.

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report by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity