Had legendary Clinton High School swimming coach Howard Judd still been living, he would have been 110 years old on Feb. 4. On Feb. 4, 1901 Thomas B. and Bertha Jacobsen Judd had a son born in Clinton. Between that date and the date of his death, Howard Judd touched many lives and, as the saying goes, "The rest is history."
I am sure everyone in Clinton does not know the story of Howard Judd as it seems they do. In fact, I am positive not everyone does.
Howard Judd Pool at Clinton High School is named for Judd, who began as Clinton High swim coach in 1931. He had his first All-American swimmer in 1934. The obituary in the Clinton Herald following his death (Nov. 21, 1978) stated partly, "Before retirement, his swimmers made the (All-American) list 54 times."
If there had been a list of top swimming towns in the country, Judd would have had Clinton in the No. 1 position, having been coach at Clinton High, the Clinton Family YMCA and AAU aggregate.
His mother died when he was 8 years old and he left school after the eighth grade to seek employment. Judd completed an apprenticeship as a blacksmith-welder with the Chicago North-Western Railroad, the work only seasonal.
During a period of unemployment he won a summer school scholarship to Ormal College of the American Gymnastic University in Indianapolis. After returning to work, he accepted a part-time job as physical director at Wartburg College, then located in Clinton. He became physical education instructor at Clinton Junior High School, then in 1931 he completed requirements for a high school education. Later, through correspondence study, Saturday classes and seven summers at the University of Iowa and study at the University of Illinois, he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1946.
Judd began as Clinton High swim coach in 1931 and had his first All-American swimmer in 1934, with 53 others making the list in later years. Before retirement as a YMCA coach for 14 years he won 11 state championships. Managing the AAU team, he won nine state championships in 14 years.
In 1941 the River Kings won the first of 11 Iowa state swimming championships five of them consecutively between 1954 and 1958. In 1945, his Clinton High tankers were selected the No. 1 high school team in the country. Other successes enjoyed by his swimmers included three national YMCA records, 18 state high school records, 11 national interscholastic records and one American record. Coach Judd had the first high school swimmer to break 50 seconds for the 100 freestyle.
He was elected to the Iowa Coaches Hall of Fame, the Iowa Amateur Softball Hall of Fame, received only the second Service to Youth Award of the YMCA presented by the local organization and was named Clinton radio KROS the station's Man of the Year in 1966.
Howard Judd received the Distinguished Service Medal of the Red Cross for rescuing people five times from the Mississippi River, was honored by the Lions Club. Kiwanis Club and received the service award from the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association. The outstanding swimming instructor was instrumental in getting a new pool built for the city's youth, the Howard Judd Pool.