City of Fort Lauderdale - Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex - Special Events
City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Venice of America

Special Events

College Swim Forum (1935 - Present)

A special event of the College Swim Coaches Association of America, the Forum annually draws 1,500 student-athletes from 50 collegiate swimming and diving teams predominantly from the eastern and midwestern states.

The late August Burghard of the Chamber of Commerce is one of many who felt the College Swim Forum was a contributing factor to the phenomenal success Fort Lauderdale has enjoyed as a resort city. In his book Half A Century In Florida, Burghard wrote, "The Forum not only brought this area the pre-Christmas tourist trade, it established us a fine resort town. Many of the college students who attended those early Forums came back and bought homes, raised families and became Fort Lauderdalians. Everyone in Fort Lauderdale today owes the Forum a vote of thanks. It has been a factor in the success of our city."

In 1957 Joe Schabo, sports writer for the Fort Lauderdale News, described the early days of the College Swim Forum:

"The winter of 1935 was a cold one. Colgate (University) Swimming Coach Sam Ingram didn't have to be asked twice when invited to Florida. Sam and his swimmers settled in Fort Lauderdale for their vacation, a much different place than we know it today; just a wee, bitty place, with plenty of financial problems, but with a beautiful municipal swimming pool.

Sam struck up acquaintances with Casino Pool Manager and Chamber of Commerce Secretary August Burghard. Together they fathered the National College Swim Forum. They reasoned that a meeting here each winter would give coaches the opportunity to thrash out swim problems. With Ingram, Gordon, and Burghard promoting, the first annual Forum was held the following year. Al covered northern states in the summer of '36, seeking to convince college coaches that the Fort Lauderdale Forum would solve their headaches."

The initial Forum of 1936 drew 100 representatives. Burghard wrote.

"That first Forum really had us worried. The purse strings were pulled tight. No one had much money. But the people of the community - fellows like Jack Fannin and Judge G.H. Martin, Doc Beck, and Bill Eastman - pitched in and everyone had a wonderful time. It was a community project. The town was smaller and everyone knew the swimmers were in town. Some took coaches and swimmers into their homes. Hotels with rooms to spare, put the kids up, two in a room, for a dollar a day each. Cooperation made the initial Forums a success."

For more historical information, contact the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. at

Burghard, August. Half A Century In Florida
Dawson, Buck. Weissmuller To Spitz

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