1942 SEC Champion Tiger Holmes Dies at 97

Rogers B. “Tiger” Holmes, a fixture in the Florida swimming scene for almost 70 years, has died. He was 97.

Holmes swam at the University of Florida and was the 1942 SEC Champion in the 50 yard freestyle before leaving to serve as an active duty pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943-1948. He would later serve in the U.S. Air Force from 1952-1953, and retired as Lt. Colonel in the Florida Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force National Guard.

He would eventually return to Florida and graduate as both class president and the president of the Letterman Club and Gator Boosters.

After leaving the sport to launch his own lumber and hardware company, he returned to the pool in the 1980s to help his recovery from open heart surgery. Never one to wade lightly into any endeavor, Holmes won at least 14 Maters National Championships; the Masters World Championship in the 50 fly in 1990, 1992, and 1994; and eventually sponsor a trip for 170 swimmers to the Masters World Championships in Brisbane, Australia.

After returning, the team launched a massive “Every Child a Swimmer” program in Jacksonville, where over 3 years, 12,000 kids were given swimming lessons.

He served as a Member of the Board of Directors at the International Swimming Hall of Fame from 1991 to 1996, and as the Chairman of that board from 1996 to 1998. In 1998, he was awarded a Gold Meddalion by the ISHOF for his national contributions to the field of business and education.

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Human Ambition

I remember Tiger from the Masters scene and his last world record back in 2015.


I hadn’t hear about this gentlemen before now, what an amazing life! Thanks for sharing.


What a great supporter of swimming and swimmers, at all levels, Tiger was! Always had an encouraging word! Sad that he is gone, but glad I got to share a pool with him for a year or two way back when.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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