Frank Piemme, a 49-time FINA masters world record holder, has died at the age of 95.
Piemme was born in San Bernadino, CA, on January 8, 1925, according to his International Swimming Hall of Fame biography. He was “persuaded” to try swimming while attending Taft high school – before World War 2 put a temporary end to high school sports. After graduating from Taft in 1943, Piemme swam a half-season for Cal Tech University in Pasadena, CA, then joined the Navy.
He was discharged in 1946, married his wife Connie in 1949, and attended the University of California-Berkeley to study mechanical engineering – he did not continue his swimming while there, however.
Piemme retired in 1982 after 32 years working as an engineer. For the last nine years of his career, he was based in Denver, and joined Engelmeisters Swim Team in 1980 as “a way to lose weight,” his bio says. Piemme realized then that he had missed the sport since 1946.
In less than four years, by 1984, he ranked No. 5 nationally in 55-59 age group in the one-hour postal swim. From there, Piemme’s career took off.
Throughout his career, he went on to rack up 49 masters world records, and since 1986 held 133 No. 1, 57 No. 2, and 33 No. 3 world rankings. At one point, he held the No. 1 spot in every freestyle event ranging from the 50 to 1500 in his age group.
Piemme was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a masters honoree in 2004.