1964 Olympic gold medalist Thompson Mann died on April 4, 2019 at the age of 76.
Mann represented the United States at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, winning a gold medal by swimming the backstroke leg of the men’s 4×100 medley relay. He and his relay teammates Bill Craig (breaststroke), Fred Schmidt (butterfly), and Steve Clark (freestyle) broke the world record in a time of 3:58.4 – becoming the first quartet to eclipse the 4:00 barrier. Mann’s leadoff split of 59.6 was also world record, making him the first man ever to break the 1:00 barrier in the 100 backstroke.
Mann, a native of Virginia, swam for the University of North Carolina under head coach Pat Earey from 1961-1964. During his time in Chapel Hill, he amassed 10 ACC titles and was a 7x All-American. Mann also led the Tar Heels to team success. In his senior year, UNC was crowned ACC co-champions and finished in a tie for 6th at the NCAA Championships.
Former North Carolina head coach Frank Comfort remembered Mann by saying, “I do remember that he was one of my swimming heroes and that Coach Earey always enjoyed telling me stories about him. I always felt that Thompson and Coach Earey got along quite well as both were rather quiet people.”
Upon graduating from North Carolina in 1964 and the completion of his swimming career, Mann attended the Medical College of Virginia and practiced internal medicine. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1984 and named one of the 50 greatest men’s swimmers in ACC history in 2002.