The Times West Virginian


May 9, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Ex-WVU swimmer still winning at 77

MORGANTOWN — Dan “Cav” Cavanaugh, who grew up in Parkersburg, is individually the most honored swimmer in West Virginia University’s athletic history.

What’s even more absolutely amazing, the Brookville, Pa., native is still competing — and winning — in that sport at the age of 77. And Cav continues to excel in his age bracket (75-79) nationally.

Bill Wyant of Morgantown, a former teammate who presented Cavanaugh for induction into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, keeps in close touch with his longtime friend. And Wyant reports that the former Mountaineer marvel recently added to his growing list of victories.

Cavanaugh had a big day at the 2013 YMCA Masters National Swimming Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He won the 50 butterfly, 50 and 100 freestyle, and 100 individual medley in his age bracket.

In that same meet in April, his 55-year-old wife, Debbie Cavanaugh, won the 100 and 200 backstroke, finished second in the 50 backstroke and 200 breaststroke, and third in the 50 breaststroke in her age group (55-59).

Mrs. Cavanaugh coaches boys’ and girls’ swimming and diving, and water polo, at Fort Lauderdale High School. Her 400 freestyle relay team set a YMCA team record at that weekend meet.

Dan Cavanaugh, WVU’s first male swimmer to earn All-America status, was All-Southern Conference and is to be inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.

He lettered at WVU from 1955-60, with two years off for time spent in U.S. military service.

Cavanaugh, who was the first West Virginia NCAA swimming qualifier, was dominant as a Mountaineer star. He was a two-time conference champion and team captain in 1959 and 1960.

After graduating in 1960, he became a highly successful teacher and coach, including a stint at the University of Miami. He developed numerous All-America swimmers, including his three sons.

As Cav grew older, he continued to capture more and more awards and honors. He set several world records.

He still holds the 100-meter record at 1:05.40 for the 70-75 age group.

Now a retired yacht sailboat captain, Dan and Debbie reside in Fort Lauderdale. Besides their three sons, they have six grandchildren.

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