Kiefer Background

Adolph Kiefer - Our Founder

Adolph Kiefer had his first swimming experience after a near fatal fall into a Chicago drainage canal.

He accidentally fell into the ice-cold water, but rather than panic, young Adolph simply rolled onto his back and began to kick his feet until he reached dry ground. Falling into the canal prompted Adolph to learn how to swim and, with the encouragement of his father, he devoted his life to becoming the best swimmer in the world. As a youth Kiefer swam every day for hours on end, and by the age of 16 he became the first person in the world to break the one-minute mark in the 100-yard backstroke. This monumental record would stand unbeaten for another 15 years.

Kiefer's unrelenting passion for swimming, and his steadfast determination, paved the way for an historic swimming career filled with countless accolades and accomplishments. Adolph's crowning achievement came in 1936, when he won a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke event at the Berlin Olympics. While at the Berlin games Kiefer had a chance encounter with another Adolph by the name of Hitler. Little did Kiefer know, but in a matter of years he would be helping the US Navy topple Hitler and his brutal regime.

In the late summer of 1942, at 23 years of age, Adolph entered the Navy as a Chief Athletics Specialist in the Physical Fitness/Swimming Division. Kiefer was immediately alarmed by the inadequacy of the Navy's Swim Training program. Shockingly, Kiefer soon realized that several high-ranking Officers didn't even know how to swim, and the Navy was actually losing more lives to drowning than bullets. Consequently, Adolph designed and implemented a comprehensive swim training program for 2 million recruits on 6 different bases. According to Adolph, "The biggest thrill of my life was having people tell me that I saved their life by teaching them the 'victory' backstroke".

Inspired by his work in the Navy, Adolph Kiefer established Adolph Kiefer & Associates in 1947. Soon after establishing Kiefer & Associates, Adolph began working on several new revolutionary innovations that would change the sport of swimming forever. By 1948, Kiefer had developed the world's first nylon swimsuit. Around the same time Adolph invented the kickboard, which has helped a countless number of individuals learn how to swim. In the mid 1950s Kiefer introduced the world's first turbulence resistant racing lane. He was also the first person in the world to distribute soft molded swim goggle gasket. Kiefer reinvented several other swim safety devices over the years, and our company continues to be at the forefront of swimming innovation.