Gardner Williams

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameGardner Boyd•Williams
Used nameGardner•Williams
Born16 April 1877 in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts (USA)
Died14 December 1933 in Marblehead, Massachusetts (USA)
AffiliationsBoston AA, Boston (USA)
NOC United States


Gardner Williams was descended from an old Boston family. His father, Jeremiah Williams, owned Jeremiah Williams & Co., one of America’s largest wool merchants, and was, for a time, the president of the Boston Wool Trade Association. Gardner Williams eventually joined the family business and travelled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East, and presumably, this familiarity with Europe led him to participate in the Athens Olympics of 1896, as it is noted that he paid his own expenses to Athens.

Writing in 1932 in The Sportsman, Thomas Curtis, 1896 gold medalist in the high hurdles, described Williams’s problems in the Athens swimming events. Curtis notes that the only American swimming entrant, which was Williams, jumped into the Bay of Piraeus, where the swimming events were held, to start the 100 freestyle, and found the water quite cold, proclaiming, “Jesus Christ! I’m freezing” and scrambled out of the water. The story is considered to be almost certainly apocryphal.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1896 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) USA Gardner Williams
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) AC
1,200 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) AC