Robert W. (Bobby) Hackett, Jr.
Bobby Hackett was born in Yonkers, New York on August 15, 1959. He learned to swim at the age of 5 years at the YMCA. As he paddled around in the pool at Phillipse Towers on Riverdale Avenue, Diane Saunders, a lifeguard at the pool who thought he showed potential as a competitive swimmer, noticed him. Diane introduced Bobby to Leo Butler and he trained at the C.Y.O. pool under Leo Butler for six years, learning all the different strokes and developing a desire to excel.
Bobby started his competitive swimming career at the age of 8 years by entering the Yonkers Aquatic Council swim meets at the Linden Street Pool, and swimming for the Jewish Community Center Swim Team. At the age of 10 years he won the High Point Trophy at the Westchester County Swim Championship at Playland Pool, and set three new Metropolitan Junior Olympic records. He thereafter joined the White Plains YMCA Swim Team, which was coached by Leo Butler, Jr.
At the age of 12, swimming for the Gator Swim Club coached by Joe Bernal, he set 10 new Metropolitan age group records, represented the Metropolitan Region I at the National Junior Olympics and won High Point Trophy at the Westchester Swim Classic for the second year.
At the age of 14 years he was named Men’s Metropolitan Swimmer of the year; set 16 Metropolitan Age Group Records, qualified and competed in the AAU Short Course Nationals in Dallas, Texas and the AAU Long Course Nationals in Concord, California. He was named the Top Male Age swimmer in the United States, breaking 8 National Age Group Records, having number 1 ranking in 10 events and 16 total rankings. His extraordinary accomplishments have not been in just one event, one distance or one stroke, and all were accomplished by training in less than ideal training facilities.
At the Long Course Nationals in 1975, at the age of 15 years, Bobby won the 1500M freestyle and qualified to represent the United States at the Pan American Games in Mexico City. At the Pan American Games he was awarded a Gold Medal and a Silver Medal, winning the 1500M freestyle and breaking the then existing Pan Am Record by more than 40 seconds. He also captured second in the 400M freestyle.
At the Olympic Trials in June 1976, at the age of 16, Bobby qualified for the Olympic Team in the 1500M freestyle. At that meet he broke the existing World Record in the 800M freestyle with a time of 8:01.54 At the Olympics in Montreal in July 1976, Bobby swam to a Silver Medal, giving him the distinction of being the first New York Metropolitan Area male swimmer in more than half a century to make the Olympic Team and win a Medal. At the age of 16, he was the youngest male member of the United States Olympic Team.
At the Short Course Nationals in 1977, Bobby won his second National Championship. At the Long Course Nationals in 1978 Bobby qualified for the World Championships. At the World Championships in Berlin, West Germany, Bobby was awarded a Gold Medal and a Silver Medal and was a member of the World Record Breaking 4 X 200M freestyle relay team. He thereafter competed in the 1979 Pan American Games and won a Bronze Medal.
After the Olympics Bobby finished his high school career at Fordham Prep by being named Outstanding Swimmer at the Catholic Nationals and being named Prep All-American in each of his four years. He then went to Harvard University and competed for the Harvard Varsity Swim Team for four years, gaining 12 All-American Ranking and being voted Team Captain in his senior year. As a final tribute, he was awarded the “William J. Bingham Award” which is awarded to one member of the graduating call who “through academic and athletic integrity, courage and ability has best served the high purpose of Harvard as exemplified by William J. Bingham”.