Hall of Fame

David Cromwell
Swimming & Diving

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

7-time All-American in the 200 backstroke (2004, 2005, 2006), 100 backstroke (2005, 2006), 400 medley relay (2005) and 800 freestyle relay (2005) … Ivy League Champion in 100 backstroke (2004-06), 200 backstroke (2004-06), 100 butterfly (2004, 2006), 200 freestyle (2006), 400 medley (2004, 2005) … 4-year letterwinner (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) … Team captain (2005) … at the time set both the Harvard 100 and 200 backstroke records in 2006 … Received the William J. Bingham award at the 2006 Senior Letterwinners’ Dinner as the most outstanding athlete from a men’s team … US National team member ... Ranked top 8 in the world in 100 and 200 backstroke (2007-2008) ... 2x USA Swimming National Champion ... Tenth fastest performer in history in 100 backstroke (2007)

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

A sincere thank you to the Harvard Varsity club. Not just for the honor, not just for the free meal, but also giving me the gift of perspective. 

But, before I get there, please let me continue the long tradition of using acceptance speeches as an excuse for telling a long, meandering origins story. My Harvard career started with a recruiting trip. To board the plane out East, I put on my finest pair of jean shorts, velcro’ed my new Nike ACG sandals over a lightly worn pair of Kirkland tube socks, draped my favorite puka shell necklace around my neck, and spit shined my earrings to a sparkle. Despite this packaging, somehow (somehow) both Harvard admissions and the swim team gave that 17 year old Montana boy a shot.

Blessed with a few options for school, I remember deciding on Harvard because I had a lot of questions, and I wanted answers. Harvard seemed like the right place to find them. 

In retrospect, the biggest question was “how good am I?” The first answer came quickly. Within about a week of classes, I realized I’m indeed not the smartest person in the world. Thank you Expos. Humiliating, but thank you for the clarity.

But, what about swimming—just how good was I? It took longer, but by graduation Harvard had provided an initial answer: I was good enough to move down to the University of Texas and train for the Olympic Trials with the Olympic coach, gold medalists, and world record holders. Training with those people led to often out-training them, which eventually led to beating them. Looking back, I did get the answer I wanted: on any given day, I could beat anyone in the world. Unfortunately, on one crucial summer day in 2008, I didn’t get it done. And, in retrospect, that one day has had an outsized voice in the narrative of my athletic career.

Which brings me back to perspective. Looking back, I was—like most athletes, I suspect—not very good at taking stock of the moment. Every year from about the age of 10, I would start the season with a goal. If I achieved it, then by the following season that previous goal seemed too small, even “below my level.” Winning city meets meant state meets were what mattered. State championships became regional championships, became national championships, became international, became Top 10 world rankings, became…

Then, poof. It’s all over. 

You move on. You find a job. If you’re lucky, you’re not only blessed to keep the unreal family and friends you had, but you add a partner that makes you feel a level of fulfillment previously uncontemplated. You become too busy, too sleep deprived, but also too full (in the best sense of the word) to look back on your athletic career. 

(This is wrapping up, I promise)

Back to perspective. I just can’t thank the Harvard Varsity Club enough for gifting me such a fun opportunity to look back at my career. I haven’t thought of swimming as much as I should, given its outsized role in creating me. So many memories are bubbling up. So many wonderful people.