Peddie proudly honors Paul Murray for his superb accomplishments as a swimmer under the guidance of Hall of Fame coach Clinton Sprout. During his sophomore year, Paul was recognized as a “very promising underclassman with a good record in the breaststroke.”
One season later at the 1942 Eastern Interscholastic Championships, he won the 100-yard breaststroke, shattering the national preparatory school record in the process. That groundbreaking accomplishment catapulted Murray into uncharted territory, as his triumph was the first-ever national title bestowed on a Peddie swimmer. Many other young men and women have graced the victory podium since then, but Paul’s climb to excellence surpassed so many odds it may never be repeated.
The storied training facility located in the basement of what is now William Mount-Burke Theater measured a mere 50 by 14 feet, barely wide enough for two lanes and 25 feet short of a standard pool. With virtually no room for an audience, few members of the community had the opportunity to watch Murray’s splendid development as a swimmer. All meets had to be held in opponents’ pools. In addition to the challenges posed by training in the “terrible tub,” the World War II era limited travel and reduced the schedule considerably. A regimen of rigorous pre-induction fitness programs and study courses provided further distractions for the budding Peddie athlete.
Paul captained the 1942-43 team, compiling 58 points to lead the squad in scoring. He continued to refine his craft at Cornell University, pulling off a huge upset with a first-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly/breaststroke at the 1945 NCAA Championships and defeating the best from Ohio State and Michigan, two teams that dominated the decade of the ’40s. In his junior and senior years, he captained the ‘Big Red” team, and the University ultimately ushered him into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame.
His induction into our own Hall honors not just Paul’s victories, but also his exemplary perseverance on his way to becoming one of the great pioneers of Peddie swimming.