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.