1960 Olympic champ, Hall of Famer Bill Mulliken passes away

1960 Olympic gold medalist Bill Mulliken passed away Thursday at the age of 74.

Mulliken was a standout at Miami University of Ohio in the late 1950s, winning the school’s first-ever NCAA title in 1959. He won the 200 breaststroke at the 1960 Rome Olympics, one of the first Olympic competitions after the butterfly was added as a separate stroke. Prior to that, many athletes were using a rough version of the modern-day butterfly technique in breaststroke races. Butterfly was first recognized as a separate stroke in 1952.

Mulliken also won gold at the 1959 Pan Am Games and had a national A.A.U. title to his name. His Olympic win was the first conventional breaststroke medal for an American since 1924.

He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1984. You can read an article on his induction here.

Miami University also published a story on Mulliken’s life, death and Redhawks career. You can read it here.

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8 years ago

May I also add he was an Illinois state Champion in the 100 breast and the 150 IM, in addition to multiple other medals, for Champaign high school, where he won their first ever stat titles and became the first of five swimming state champs for Central.

John Venator
8 years ago

I was surprise….and shocked to learn of Bill’s passing!

I did not know Bill through swimming, but rather through his civic activities later in his life in Chicago where he and his wife made their home.

Bill and I were both members of the Chicago museum of Contemporary Art Men’s Council. My wife and I have had a home in Mexico for many years and one year we met with Bill and his wife in Mexico at the Mayan ruins of Chitsen Itza in the Yucatan.

I always admired Bill for his efforts with underprivileged children working on a swim program at a YMCA in the inner city. He was a great guy who always put people at ease with… Read more »

Gary Barker
8 years ago

I was a freshman at Miami the fall of 1960 when Bill won the Oltmpic gold medal. He was given a hero’s welcome of course but Bill was extremely humble. I remember his exact words when he addressed the student body; “in no false modestly I can say that I am not the best breaststroker in the world”. Bill was no doubt influenced by his coach Ramond Ray. Bill will be missed and remembered.

Glenn Mills
8 years ago

Very much enjoyed getting to know Bill over the years. What a fantastic human. He’ll be missed by so many. Very sad news.

Skip Thompson
8 years ago

Nice article on Bill Mulliken however this statement is false “His Olympic win was the first breaststroke medal for an American since 1924. Joe Verdeur, Keith Carter, and Robert Sohl went 1-2-3 in 1948 Olympics in the 200 Breaststroke. Now this statement would be true if you stated it was orthodox breaststroke, which is breaststroke without the dolphin kick. I believe 1948 is the only time that the USA went 1-2-3 in the 200 Breaststroke event.

8 years ago

Bill was a great personality who enjoyed every moment. In the village he would sing “Primrose Lane” life is a holiday, a western song by Jerry Wallace 1959. I just watched it on U-Tube.
He would say how he felt he could win although not the favorite. After the semi’s he was convinced and because it was Bill you listened. He may have even said something to Terry Gathercole AUS. the WR holder. He was another great one who coached in Midland TX for a number years and active on Nat.AAU committees and then later in Australia. They were all together at the 100 what he wanted and he laid them out in the second.
He loved reunions… Read more »

Lane Four
8 years ago

I had no idea Bill was not well. He did so much to save the swim program at Miami (Ohio) University. He will most certainly be missed.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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