Swim Test

When the United States entered World War II, there was widespread concern that the physical fitness of young Americans was poor compared to their German counterparts. Schools and colleges across the country began more intensive physical education programs as a result. Inspired in part by the demanding fitness regime of the navy pre-flight trainees on campus during the war, the university, joining other colleges around the country, decided to institute a requirement that students learn how to swim before they graduated. The original swim test required students to demonstrate three different strokes over four laps in the pool. The test evolved to focus simply on survival: students had to swim one lap and then tread water for five minutes. Students were frequently reluctant to take the test, with many putting it off until just before graduation. The best-known procrastinator was future chancellor Michael Hooker (class of 1969), who waited until the last possible opportunity to take the test. He failed, was unable to graduate with the rest of his class, and had to enroll in a swimming class in summer school. Increasingly unpopular and seen as an outdated requirement, the swim test was finally eliminated in the fall of 2006.