Craig Beardsley

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Craig Beardsley, world record holder and Swim Across America volunteer

Craig Russell Beardsley (born 1960) is an American former competitive swimmer who was a world record-holder in the 200-meter butterfly for three years in the early 1980s. Although he qualified as a member of the ill-fated 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, Beardsley could not compete in the Olympics because of the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympic Games. Beardsley is a veteran celebrity swimmer for Swim Across America (SAA), and has been an active participant in SAA events since 1987.

Swimming Career

Beardsley won the gold medal in his signature event, the 200-meter butterfly, at the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After high school, he received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he swam for coach Randy Reese's Florida Gators swimming and diving team in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition from 1979 to 1982. Beardsley qualified for the star-crossed U.S. Olympic team in 1980, but could not participate when, at the behest of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the U.S. Olympic Committee voted to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979. Like many of the best American athletes of 1980, he was denied the opportunity to participate on the largest stage in international sports. At the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials held the month before the Olympics, Beardsley set a new world record of 1:58.21 in the 200-meter butterfly—a time that was over a second faster than Soviet swimmer Sergey Fesenko's gold medal time in the 1980 Olympic finals.

After the United States–led boycott of the Moscow Olympics, Beardsley continued to train and participate in competitive swimming. He held both the American and world records for the 200-meter butterfly from 1980 to 1983. Swimming World Magazine named him its American Male Swimmer of the Year in 1981. Beardsley was a two-time NCAA champion in butterfly and received eight All-American honors while swimming for the Gators. In 1983, he again won the gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly at the Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela.

Beardsley failed to qualify for the U.S Olympic team in 1984, by placing third by 0.36 of a second in the U.S. Olympic Trials, and he retired from competitive swimming afterward.

Personal life

He graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in management in 1983, and was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great." Beardsley became a Wall Street trader, working for Prudential Securities in New York City. In 1992, he married Ann-Elizabeth McKay Hensel, a former member of the U.S. national figure skating team. He has two children, Carter and Caroline, and lives in Chatham, New Jersey.

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