100 Moments: The Tigersharks Win Five Straight
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by remembering the 1950-54 men's swim teams.

The teams were lead by legendary swimming coach Thomas H. "Friend" Hughes, who coached the team for a total of 23 seasons.

Hughes was one of the first people to allow African-Americans the opportunity to swim competitively, but he could only allow them three months to train at the local pool. This put the TSU teams at a severe disadvantage.

However, Hughes's coaching ability and the determination of the Tigersharks produced five straight CIAA Invitational Swimming Championships.

The first championship came in 1950 at West Virginia State College with team captain Frank Stewart leading the way.

Stewart and the Tigersharks repeated as champions at the next CIAA Invitational held at Hampton. This time, Jack Noel stole the show for TSU, winning three events including the 50-yard freestyle.

The 1951 CIAA Invitational proved to be no contest for the Tigersharks as they amassed 105 points, compared to second-place Howard's 72. Tennessee State took first place in eight events, second in eight and third in three.

The 1952 season included matches against Howard, Brooklyn College, and the Teachers Colleges of Central state and Lockhaven State. Some of the opponents were different, but the result was the same as team captain Stanley Gainor led TSU to a third straight title.

After a fourth straight CIAA Championship in 1953 at Morgan State University, the Tigersharks turned in arguably their finest championship season in 1954.

TSU compiled 107 points in the 1954 championship held at West Virginia State College.

Second-place Morgan State had only 44 points.

The team's captain in 1954 was Donald Jackson, but the entire team contributed to the fifth-straight title and an undefeated season.

Tennessee State beat Central State 71-13 in the season opener, and the team set seven new pool records in the meet.

The only match that was even competitive in the 1954 season was the meet at Ball State. A meet that the Tigersharks still won by 20 points.

Although TSU does not have a swimming team anymore, the school still has the memories, titles, and the Hughes Aquatic Center- named for the celebrated coach. 

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.

Sports Information Assistant Alex Mitchell contributed to this article.