John Naber

John Phillips Naber (born January 20, 1956) is an American former competition swimmer, five-time Olympic medalist, and former world record-holder in multiple events.

John Naber
Naber in 2016
Personal information
Full nameJohn Phillips Naber
National teamUnited States
Born (1956-01-20) January 20, 1956
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.[1]
Height6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Weight194 lb (88 kg)
StrokesBackstroke, freestyle
ClubLadera Oaks Swim Club
College teamSouthern California

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Naber studied in England and Italy where his father worked as a management consultant.[1] He graduated from Woodside High School in northern California,[2][3] and then completed his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1977 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. While at USC, he led the Trojans to four consecutive NCAA titles (19741977).

1976 Olympics

At age twenty, Naber won four gold medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec.[4] Each of these victories was swum in world-record time; he swept the two backstroke events and was a member of two winning relay teams.[4] He also won a silver medal in the 200-meter freestyle, part of a U.S. sweep in that event.[5]

One of Naber's gold medals was for the first 200-meter backstroke completed in under two minutes;[6] his world record time of 1:59.19 stood for seven years. His world record of 55.49 seconds in the 100 meter backstroke also stood for seven years.[7]

For these accomplishments in Montreal and elsewhere, Naber won the 1977 James E. Sullivan Award, which is presented to the top American amateur athlete of the year. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an "Honor Swimmer" in 1982.[8]

After swimming

Naber joined The Walt Disney Company in 1977 as a marketing representative, then became a full-time "roving ambassador" for the swimwear maker Speedo.[9] He later was a sports broadcaster, motivational speaker, and professional writer.[6] He was a member of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee.[8]

In May 2014, Naber was inducted into Woodside High School's Community Hall of Fame.[2]

See also


  1. Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "John Naber". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2008-12-29.
  2. "Community Hall of Fame". Woodside High School. John Naber, Inducted 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2017. John Naber graduated as a scholar athlete from Woodside High School in 1973.
  3. Chapin, Dwight (12 August 2001). "WHERE ARE THEY NOW? / John Naber / The spirit of '76 / Swimmer won five medals at Montreal Games". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  4. "Naber makes it four golds; U.S. string ends". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. July 25, 1976. p. 1B.
  5. "World marks still falling for U.S. men". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. July 20, 1976. p. 5C.
  6. Cousineau, Phil (2003). The Olympic Odyssey: Rekindling the True Spirit of the Great Games. Quest Books. p. 161. ISBN 0835608336.
  7. "Britannica Library".
  8. John Naber (USA) – Honor Swimmer profile at International Swimming Hall of Fame
  9. Draper, Dick (22 November 1977). "Swim Suit Salesman: Naber Succumbs - He's a Pro" (Clipping). The Times. San Mateo, California. p. 17. Retrieved 17 August 2017 via

Preceded by
Roland Matthes
Men's 100-meter backstroke
world record-holder (long course)

July 18, 1976 – August 6, 1983
Succeeded by
Rick Carey
Preceded by
Roland Matthes
Men's 200-meter backstroke
world record-holder (long course)

June 19, 1976 – August 3, 1983
Succeeded by
Rick Carey
Preceded by
Tim Shaw
Swimming World
World Swimmer of the Year

Succeeded by
Brian Goodell

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