Neumann competed for the Austrian swimming team at the 1896 Athens Olympics. He was one of only two Austrians to a win a medal at the first modern Olympics, taking the gold in the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 8:12.6. Neumann was scheduled to race in the 1500-meter freestyle, but chose not to participate.
The son of a world renowned physician, Neumann first gained notoriety when he won Austria's National River Swimming Championship in 1892. In 1894, he won the Austrian National championship in the 500-meter freestyle (9:24.2 -- actually 510 meters). Following his success at the Athens Olympics, Neumann emigrated to the United States to enroll as a student at the German Medical College in Chicago. In 1897, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania (where he played water polo). He eventually became a physician and also held a doctorate degree in philosophy.
In 1897, Neumann set the world record in the two, three, four, and five-mile swimming events, while competing for the Chicago Athletic Association. That same year, he won the American and Canadian National Freestyle Swimming Championships. In 1898, he was the Canadian National champion in the 880-yard freestyle. He also won three U.S. National AAU titles -- in the 400-meter freestyle, 880-yard freestyle, and one-mile event. Neumann had an unorthodox stroke, and one critic said that he: "lays flat on his breast and stomach, his face partly buried in the water, and swims double overarm..." In 1986, he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a pioneer swimmer. He is also a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. June 13, 1875 - d. Feb. 9, 1932
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)