Hugh Wilder '68 found three passions during his time at Denison: his wife Pana Mabrey '68 (whom he met in Shakespeare class at Denison in 1966), philosophy, and swimming.
Wilder married Mabrey, became a professor of philosophy at Miami University and the College of Charleston, (retiring in 2010), and he kept on swimming, setting a national backstroke record for men over 50, at 60, and again at 65. In recognition of his untiring excellence in swimming, he was inducted into the International Swimming Masters Hall of Fame in 2017.
A backstroker through high school, college and masters swimming, Wilder has set 25 Masters world records over the last 26 years, in six age groups (45-49 through 70-74). He currently holds six world records. At World Masters Championship meets since 1992, Wilder has won four gold medals, one silver and three bronze.
Wilder swam all four years under Coach Ted Barclay. He was a four-year NCAA All-American, Denison varsity record holder and Ohio Conference champion. He was inducted into the Denison University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979 and into the Denison Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 2011. He was awarded the Denison University Alumni Citation in 1999.
Wilder's best college time in the 100 yard back was 56.8; his best masters time is 57.28, a U.S. national record set in 1998 when he was 50. Hugh was the first person over 60 to swim the 100 yard backstroke in under 60 seconds, setting the national record of 59.29 in 2008. In 2013, he became the first and so far the only person over 65 to swim the 100 yard back in under 60 seconds (59.62). Hugh’s best college time in the 100 meter back (long course) was 1:04.6; his best masters time is 1:06.00, a world record set in 1992 when he was 45.
Hugh graduated from Denison with a major in Philosophy. He went on to earn MA and PhD degrees in philosophy at the University of Western Ontario.