John Kinsella (swimmer)

John Pitann Kinsella (born August 26, 1952) is an American former competition swimmer, an Olympic champion, and a former world record-holder in multiple events.

John Kinsella
Personal information
Full nameJohn Pitann Kinsella
National teamUnited States
Born (1952-08-26) August 26, 1952
Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.
Height6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight201 lb (91 kg)
ClubHinsdale Swim Club
College teamIndiana University

Kinsella was a standout at Illinois swimming powerhouse Hinsdale Central High School in the late 1960s. As a 16-year-old, he was the silver medalist in the men's 1,500-meter freestyle at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, finishing second to U.S. teammate Mike Burton.

In 1970, while still a high school senior swimming for the Hinsdale McDonald's Swim Club under coach Don Watson, he was awarded the Amateur Athletic Union's James E. Sullivan Award in recognition of the outstanding American amateur athlete of the year. In 1970 he also became the first person to swim 1,500 meters under 16 minutes. After graduating from high school, Kinsella, together with Mark Spitz, Gary Hall Sr., and other notable swimmers, were part of Doc Counsilman's legendary Indiana Hoosiers swimming and diving team at Indiana University, which dominated men's college swimming in the early 1970s. Kinsella won NCAA national championships in the 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle events in 1971, 1972, and 1973.

At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Kinsella won a gold medal as a member of the winning U.S. team in the men's 4×200-meter freestyle relay. The first-place team of Kinsella, Fred Tyler, Steve Genter, and Mark Spitz set a new world-record time of 7:35.78 in the event final.

After graduating from Indiana University, Kinsella went on to swim professionally, setting a time record for swimming the English Channel. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an "Honor Swimmer" in recognition for his Olympic performances and later professional swimming career where he achieved the title of "World's Professional Champion."

After the end of his competition swimming career, Kinsella attended Harvard Business School. He joined RBC Dain Rauscher as an investment officer, but is no longer with the firm. He currently resides in Illinois. He has a daughter and three sons.

See also


  • Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "John Kinsella". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2011-09-03.
  • John Kinsella – Honor Swimmer profile at International Swimming Hall of Fame
  • Indiana Hoosiers
Preceded by
Hans-Joachim Fassnacht
Men's 400-meter freestyle
world record-holder (long course)

August 20, 1970 – September 7, 1970
Succeeded by
Gunnar Larsson
Preceded by
Mike Burton
Men's 1,500-meter freestyle
world record-holder (long course)

August 23, 1970 – August 6, 1972
Succeeded by
Rick DeMont
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