Feb. 5, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Clarke Scholes, who captured Michigan State's only individual Olympic swimming gold medal, passed away Friday, Feb. 5 at the age of 79.
Born Nov. 25, 1930 in Detroit, Scholes was one of the most decorated Spartan swimmers in the history of the program. He joined the MSU swim team in 1950 and went on to win five NCAA championships for the Green and White. Scholes won three NCAA championships in the 100-yard freestyle (1950-52) and added another title in the 50-yard free in 1951. The three-time All-America honoree also swam on MSU's national champion 400-yard free relay team in 1951. Scholes also captured three Big Ten individual titles.
Following his career at MSU, Scholes won a gold medal in the 100-meter free at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. His time of 57.4 was an Olympic record and edged Japan's Hiroshi Suzuki for the gold medal. In 1952, Olympic rules prohibited swimmers from competing in more than one event. Had Scholes been permitted to compete, he would have been a medal contender in several events.
Three years later, Scholes again claimed gold in the 100-meter free, this time at the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City. He was also a part of the 400-meter freestyle relay team that took home gold at the '55 Pan American Games.
In honor of his outstanding accomplishments in the sport, Scholes was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1980. He was part of the inaugural MSU Athletics Hall of Fame class in 1992 and in Feb. 2008, he was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.