Charles Humphrey Keating, Jr., a juggernaut across many worlds, passed away on Monday in Phoenix, Arizona. He was 90 years old.
Keating lived an almost double-life in this world. In the fields of finance, his name is both revered and reviled – he built massive wealth in the 1980′s in Phoenix, Arizona, but was then brought down by one of the biggest financial scandals in American history that cost him four-and-a-half years in prison.
In the world of swimming, however, he is a legend for both his abilities and his philanthropy.
Keating was the 1946 NCAA Champion in the 200 yard breaststroke, competing for the University of Cincinnati, topping legends Paul Murray and James “future Doc” Counsilman, making him Cincinnati’s first ever national champion in any sport, as well as their first All-American.
He is also the patriarch of a legendary swimming family; his son Charles Keating III swam at the 1976 Olympics in the same 200 breaststroke (he was 5th), and perhaps the best-known as an athlete is his grandson Gary Hall Jr., a SwimSwam contributor, who won 10 Olympic medals as a competitor.
Keating, along with his brother William, donated $600,000 in total to swimming powerhouse St. Xavier High School to build what was at the time arguably the best high school natatorium in the country – a pool that still bears his father’s name. He was a huge financial supporter of the Cincinnati Marlins club in the 1970′s and 1980′s where swimmers like Mary T. Meagher made it one of the most prominent clubs in the country. In 1988, he built the Phoenix Swim Club pool, set to be razed this year, that for so long was a jewel of swimming in the southwestern United States.
Keating’s legacy is a complex one, as are the legacies of most with his stature upon passing; however his impact on the swimming community was undoubtedly and indelibly positive, and for that we all owe him a great deal of gratitude.