Coach, U.S. Swimming Team
1920 Olympic Games
George “Dad” Center was one of the Outrigger’s most beloved members. He taught hundreds of youngsters at the Club to swim, surf and canoe. As a swimmer, he finished second to Duke when Duke tied the world record in the 220-yard dash in 1911, and later became Duke’s coach. Dad’s OCC swimming teams, from 1914-1932, broke many local, national and world records, and he led OCC to the AAU National Swimming Championship in 1929.
Dad was selected to coach the 1919 U.S. National swimming team and the 1920 U.S. Olympic team. His swimmers won all the Gold medals in Antwerp except one. He also coached the Hawaii team that traveled to Japan in 1926.
Dad coached the top two male swimmers of their time, OCC members Duke Kahanamoku and Buster Crabbe, as well as Club Olympians William Harris, Mariechen Wehselau, Pua Kealoha and Helen Moses. Dad’s Outrigger swimmers set a total of 18 world records.
Dad served as Club Captain for many years. He was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1991, alongside his proteges Duke and Buster. He was given an Honorary/Life membership in the OCC in 1920 after the Olympics. He was inducted into the Outrigger’s Winged “O” in 1970, the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Waterman Hall of Fame in 2014.