Kurt Krumpholz, Millennium Hall of Fame

November 19, 1999

Kurt Krumpholz's athletic world was always in aquatics and water

polo was his first love, but everything changed at the 1972 U.S. Olympic

Swim Trials.

During preliminary heats at Chicago's Portage Park pool, Krumpholz, a

no-name 400-meter freestyler at a meet dominated by Rick DeMont, Mark

Spitz and Shirley Babashoff, was suddenly the talk of the trials.

Krumpholz, a 1971 Corona del Mar High graduate and All-American in


water polo and swimming at UCLA, set a world record in the 400 in

4:00.11, becoming the first to reach the mark in four minutes even.

Though Krumpholz stopped the trials at midstroke, he did not make the

Olympic team, placing sixth among eight finalists that same evening in a

respectable 4:03.82.

His record stood through that year's Munich Games, when DeMont broke

it in 3:58.18, the first under 4:00.

"Nobody knew who I was, and it was my first summer swimming the 400

when I broke the record," said Krumpholz, who'd competed in the event

only three times before the Olympic Trials.

"After I didn't make the Olympic team, people were asking me, 'Weren't

you devastated, or distraught?' I'd tell them no, because nobody knew who

I was going in."

But since that momentous record-setting day on Aug. 4, 1972, Krumpholz

was no longer a water polo player who simply stayed in shape by swimming

in the off-season.

Instead, UCLA's Bob Horn, the water polo and swim coach, had Krumpholz

flip-flop his priorities. Krumpholz was now in the spotlight and water

polo was only an autumn diversion.

The world record also opened doors for Krumpholz, whose first job out

of UCLA was with Speedo International, Ltd. In seven years, beginning in

November 1976, Krumpholz went from passing out swimwear on the pool deck

to vice president of U.S. promotions for the company.

Leading up to the world record, Krumpholz was an All-American swimmer

his freshman year at UCLA, after starting on the Bruins' NCAA

championship water polo team in the fall of '71. Krumpholz wanted to make

the U.S. Olympic water polo team, but Coach Monte Nitzlowski's squad,

which eventually earned a bronze medal in Munich, was complete with

veteran players.

So Krumpholz settled for a summer at the Santa Clara Swim Club under

the eye of Olympic Coach George Haines.

"A friend of mine (Carl Thomas) convinced me to come up to Santa Clara

just to keep in shape and have a chance to work with George," Krumpholz

said in a Sports Illustrated article, which celebrated the 10-year

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