Saturday, October 18, 2008

'New York Times' article from 1913: Senior class member from Columbia University could not swim so he got no degree upon graduation!

In 1913 for a student to obtain his B.A. he had a final requirement to demonstrate that he could swim. if a student could not swim, the student received no degree. Here is a link the NYT which provides access to a PDF file: [Link]

9 comments:

Kerry said...

They still required a swim test at Cornell when I was there in the 90s. I always found it ironic that I could bypass Chemistry and Physics after a single AP class in each, but 8 years of competitive swimming, four summers of lifeguarding, and a WSI certification couldn't get me out of the hour wait to swim the 75 yard test. The people who failed had to take swimming, but i don't know anyone who failed to graduate in the end. (And really, given today's drowning rates, maybe it's not such a bad thing to require...)

Tony Austin said...

That is so cool. I thought it was an anachronism and wondered when they stop doing that and here they still insist upon knowing how to swim. I m impressed!!!

AI said...

Yes, I was just going to say, I work at Cornell and every start of the school year the gym gets crowded with freshman looking for the pool.

Trevor Algatt said...

My high school required everyone to take -- and pass -- a semester-long swim class. The "final exam" was to complete a 500 (SCY) unassisted.

I think the real purpose of the class, though, was to get all the meat-head jocks to put up with wearing a Speedo.

Tony Austin said...

You and Kerry went to awesome schools! Even Socrates thinks so!!!

Chris Beach said...

Columbia still has the requirement!

Tony Austin said...

Wow, every college with a pool should have this requirement! I am so impressed.

Scott said...

The ancient Greeks considered swimming to be an essential life skill and as universities came into being they adopted the Greek attitude in their desire to graduate 'complete' individuals in both mind and body. Like Tony I'm surprised there are universities who still carry on that tradition. On the other hand it is well known there's a strong correlation between a person's education and his or her efforts to continue being physically fit throughout their lives. Perhaps the saying "healthy mind, healthy body" has some truth to it.

Chris Beach said...

Tony - Here's a link to the Columbia site that delineates the requirement:

http://www.college.columbia.edu/core/classes/physed.php

Here's another link to a good video that stars the former Columbia assistant coach teaching adults to swim (just to get a sense of what this entails):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrEOnyelxDQ