Swarthmore and the Summer Olympics
Throughout the College's history, Swarthmore student-athletes have reached the pinnacle of athletic success, winning national championships, earning All-America accolades, and competing in the Olympic Games.
With the Rio Summer Olympics in full swing, get to know three Swarthmore student-athletes who competed in past Summer Olympics games.
Tricia Duncan '95, who graduated with a degree in psychology, swam the 100- and 200-meter backstroke in the 1988 Seoul Olympics for the Virgin Islands prior to arriving at the College. At Swarthmore, Duncan was a member of the 200-meter medley relay team that captured first-place at the 1995 Centennial Conference Championships. Duncan is the sister of recently-retired NBA champion Tim Duncan.
Alan Valentine '21 won a gold medal in the 1924 Paris Olympics as a player-coach for the U.S. rugby team, which upset a heavily-favored French team. The Rio games marks the return of rugby to the Olympic Games, meaning that Valentine's squad is the reigning Olympic champions. Along with his athletic success – which includes staring for both the Swarthmore football and lacrosse teams – Valentine was a Rhodes Scholar, college president, and a professor. In 1948, he was chosen by President Harry Truman to head up the Marshall Plan. Valentine graduated from Swarthmore with degrees in history and English and was awarded an honorary degree in 1937.
Rolf Valtin '48, who graduated from Swarthmore with a degree in economics, was a member of the U.S. soccer team that competed in the 1948 London Olympics. A two-time soccer All-American at Swarthmore, Valtin scored a goal in a pre-Olympic exhibition match against the team from the newly formed State of Israel. An Olympics appearance is just a small part of Valtin's incredible life journey, which also includes being born in Nazi Germany, emigrating to America, and then storming the beach during the World War II Normandy invasion. Read more about Valtin's life.
Know of any additional Swarthmore Olympians? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org