Oct. 29, 2010
Ilkka Suvanto competed for Stanford and coach Jim Gaughran in the early 1960s and competed for Finland at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics. His Olympic career is available here. He was a two-time Pac-8 Champion in 1963 and 1965 in the 200 butterfly. A full list of men's Olympians is available here, as the Cardinal men have had a swimming Olympian in every Olympiad since 1956 and as early as 1920. Gostanford.com caught up with the former Olympian here.
Years Competed: 1961 - 1965
Degree Earned: Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Architecture, 1965, Bachelor of Architecture. M.I.T. 1968
Family: Wife: Joan; 2 sons: Aleksi & Erik
Where do you live now?: Concord, Massachusetts
What have you been doing since leaving school: I was a practicing Architect and principal of a major Boston architectural office until retirement in 2006. Now I coach Masters swimmers, occasionally bicycle across the country with my wife and volunteer in my community.
Favorite memory from competing at Stanford: Close dual meets at the old outdoor pool, especially against USC swimming against world record holder Jon Konrads in the 500 free.
What was it like swimming at Stanford in the 1960s?: Despite the long, cold walk from the old shower rooms to the pool, we always had a lot of fun working out under coach Jim Gaughran.
Tell us about your Olympic experiences in 1960 and 1964, what do you remember most?: In Rome, 1960 our 4 X 200m relay team finished in 5th place, still the best relay finish for a relay team from Finland. We celebrated by throwing our coach into the pool fully clothed resulting in a big cheer from the audience.
What makes a Stanford swimmer and swimming here, unique: A Stanford swimmer is expected to be nationally competetive in the pool, excel in the classrom and be a leader in the community.
Favorite, non-swimming related memory from attending Stanford: Designing and building a huge Homecoming Game display in front of the Theta Chi House.
What advice would you give to freshmen swimmers coming in: Take advantage of everything Stanford has to offer with friendships, extra-curricular activities and the classroom.