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Adolph Kiefer

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameAdolph Gustav•Kiefer
Used nameAdolph•Kiefer
Nick/petnamesSonny Boy
Born27 June 1918 in Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Died5 May 2017 in Wadsworth, Illinois (USA)
AffiliationsLake Shore AC, Chicago (USA)
NOC United States


Adolph Kiefer of the Lake Shore AC in Chicago was the first man to swim the 100y backstroke in under one minute. He set 17 world records between 1935 and 1944 and none of his backstroke records were broken until 1950, four years after he had retired from competitive swimming. Indoors and outdoors he won a total of 18 AAU titles in the backstroke, the freestyle, and the IM, but the backstroke was clearly his forté.

Kiefer attended the University of Texas prior to the World War II. During the War, Kiefer conducted a survey of shipwrecks and documented the toll of GI deaths from drowning. As a result, Lieutenant Kiefer was put in charge of swimming instruction for the entire US Navy. While in the Navy he studied the various lifesaving devices, including life jackets and buoys, which later led to him forming his own company with various subsidiaries, Adolph Kiefer & Associates, all involved in the manufacture of swimming pool accessories and swim-related items. His company was often a supplier for the US Olympic team and at the Olympic Games. At his death in May 2017, Adolph Kiefer was the second oldest living USA Olympian, behind only kayaker John Lysak.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) USA Adolph Kiefer
100 metres Backstroke, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1936 Summer Olympics 12 August 1936 Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Backstroke, Men Round One, Heat One 1:06.9 1
1936 Summer Olympics 13 August 1936 Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Backstroke, Men Semi-Finals, Heat One 1:06.8 1
1936 Summer Olympics 14 August 1936 Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Backstroke, Men Final 1:05.9 1

Special Notes