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Charles McCaffree Jr. papers

Identifier: UA-17.354

Scope and Content

This collection contains papers, correspondence, articles, photographs, and scrapbooks all relating to Charles McCaffree Jr.'s coaching career. Materials include items relating to his pre-MSU days, the Porpoise Fraternity, and his time as the U.S. National Swimming Team coach. The photographs and scrapbook albums include Battle Creek High School swimming team, Iowa State College, University of Michigan, the Pan-American games, and photos of McCaffree. Awards, certificates, and plaques McCaffree received are also part of the collection. Also, a reel of film from the 1952 Olympics of the Men's 400 Meter Freestyle Semi-Finals.


  • Creation: 1929 - 2011

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.


Charles McCaffree Jr. was born October 16, 1907 in Canova, South Dakota. McCaffree’s love of swimming began at the YMCA pool in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. From there, he followed his brother to the University of Michigan, where he competed as a freestyler under the direction of Coach Matt Mann. McCaffree graduated from Michigan in 1930 and got his first coaching job at Battle Creek High School where his teams won six straight state titles. In 1936, McCaffree returned to the University of Michigan to be the assistant swim coach to Mann, but it was only for a year. He got a job as the head swim coach at Iowa State from 1938-1941. Athletic Director Ralph Young invited McCaffree out to Michigan State College to view the new Jenison Field House facilities. At that point, Young hired McCaffree to be MSC’s new head swim coach. For the next 29 years, McCaffree, affectionately called “Coach MAC”, would be the head swim coach at MSU and lead his teams to many titles and championships. During his time, the men’s swim team had a record of 191-58-2. His teams won eight straight Central Collegiate Conference championships, two Michigan AAU titles, one Canadian crown, and one National AAU title, prior to State’s entry into the Big Ten. In 1957, the Spartan’s won their first Big Ten team championship and in NCAA competitions, his teams finished second once and third three times, and averaged nearly a fifth-place finish over the whole period. With the popularity of MSU’s swimming team, talented young men flocked to East Lansing. McCaffree had the chance to help coach U.S. Olympians, which included Howard Patterson, George Hoogerhyde, Clarke Scholes, Gary Dilley, Ken Walsh, and Pete Williams. Scholes and Walsh both won gold medals and Dilley won a silver medal. McCaffree also went on to coach other U.S. teams. In 1959, he was the head coach of the U.S. Pan American team and was assistant manager to the U.S. men’s team in the Olympic Games at Munich in 1972. He was a member of the U.S. Olympic Water Polo Committee. He was also the meet manager of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in 1964 and 1968, meet director in 1972, and assistant meet director in 1976. Along with coaching, McCaffree served as secretary of the NCAA swimming rules committee, editor of the NCAA Swimming Guide, member and secretary of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Committee, member of the National AAU Men’s Swimming Committee and the National YMCA Aquatic Committee. In the summer of 1945, McCaffree was part of the U.S. Army Special Service Sports School as a staff member. In 1961, he was elected president of the College Swimming Coaches Association. Along with numerous awards, McCaffree was presented the National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy in 1965 and inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1976. McCaffree retired as the MSU head swim coach in 1969 and served as director of MSU Men’s Swimming Programs for the next five years. In 1975-1979, he was the executive secretary of the MSU Varsity Alumni ‘S’ Club. McCaffree was honored with the naming of the IM West pools, the Charles McCaffree Pools, during a halftime ceremony at the 1979 homecoming game. In 2011, McCaffree was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Throughout McCaffree’s career was his wife, Esther. They were married on December 28, 1933 in Cadillac, Michigan. They had four children together: David, Don, Chuck, and Peggy. Charles McCaffree died December 13, 1980 in Austin, Texas at the age of 73.


3.5 Cubic Feet (3 boxes, 1 oversize folder, 1 reel of film)

Language of Materials


Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University.

Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Charles McCaffree Jr. Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
Jennie Russell
October 2, 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US