Alfred Hajos was 13 years old when he felt compelled to become a good swimmer after his father drowned in the Danube River.
A victory in 13 degree water
The first Olympic swimming contests, at the Olympic Games in 1896, were held in the Bay of Zea in water with a temperature of only 13 degrees Celsius. Hajos won the 100m and the 1,200m freestyle on the same day (11 April). For the longer race, the nine entrants were transported by boat to the open water and left alone to swim back to shore. According to Hajos, "I must say that I shivered from the thought of what would happen if I got a cramp from the cold water. My will to live completely overcame my desire to win". In 1924 Hajos won a prize in the architectural division of the Olympic Art Contest.