he manifested that summer.
A novice swimmer, John Stanas began his career as a swimming competitor in Mendon a few
months before. Earlier, one of the swim coaches in the area observed that Stanas was competition
material and encouraged him to seriously consider competing the forthcoming meets. This proved to
be very wise advice. In the 800-yard event that season, he placed second, causing many observers to
regard him as "a natator who would not stop with finishing second." Subsequently, he captured the
National Junior 800-yard title. Then he went on to win the New England 400-yard event. At that time he
began to compete under the colors of the Whitinsville Community Center. These successes
prompted his advisors to have him sign up for the NEAAU Senior Long Distance Championship
competition to be held at Revere Beach on August 30, 1931.
Subsequently, some Hopedale observers commented that such a decision was rash and unrealistic.
First, although Stanas had won the national junior competition and the New England competition, he
was nonetheless still a novice swimmer. Secondly, competing in a swimming pool was quite
different from competing in the ocean. They were clearly two different swimming environments.
So his successes to date in pools did not at all guarantee that he would do well in sea competition or
indeed even be able to cope with such conditions. Besides, while pool water was usually kept at a
decent temperature, no one could make the ocean's water warm. What if he suffered a cramp or was
unable to cope with high waves?
These comments were taken into consideration by his advisors, but after some discussion, Stanas
began training for the August 30 competition.
In order to keep in shape, on August 27, John, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Stanas, competed in the
Whitinsville A.C. 100 meter freestyle handicap event at the pool at Revere. He came in third. While this
was a respectable prize, it gave the nay-sayers some ammunition for their argument that he was just
not ready for the ocean competition being held three short days away.
There were 11 competitors that August day. In order to win first prize, a swimmer had to be the first to
negotiate a triangular two and a half mile course.
The ocean did not cooperate that day. Although the sun was shining, the sea was choppy and as a
result, the first leg of the competition was brutal. In addition, the water was unseasonably cold.
As for his competitors, Stanas was aware before he began the race that he had at least one
formidable opponent. William Nolan had led the pack for most of the day during the Boston
Lighthouse swim the week before. And sure enough, during the first quarter mile, Nolan was right
behind Stanas. But shortly thereafter Nolan made a mistake. Instead of swimming around the outside
of the marker, he veered into the triangle, causing him to have to swim 70 extra yards in order to be
allowed to continue the race.
Meantime, Stanas used a fast crawl throughout the entire distance which proved to be the winning
strategy. He completed the course in the extraordinary time of one hour, four minutes and thirty-eight
seconds. This time broke the previous record for that event. Nolan came in second, almost 200 yards
Millicent Cramp of the Whitinsville Community Center, came in second in the Women's Meet that day.
This provided the Center with the unprecedented combination of John's outstanding first place win
and Millicent's respectable showing against her formidable opponent, Gussie Schnabel of the Boston
It was clear to his supporters and nay-sayers alike that it made no difference to John whether he was
swimming in fresh water or salt water. He had made a spectacular contribution to the art of
swimming during his first year of participation in swimming competitions.
He proved that his performance to date was not a flash in the pan. On September 7, 1931, he went
on to win the 100-meter freestyle event at the open swimming meet at Pout Pond, Uxbridge. He
nosed out Arthur Broadhurst of Whitinsville by completing the distance in one minute and seven
As a result, John's spectacular record provided Hopedale residents with another reason to be proud
of their community that summer during the second year of the Great Depression. Milford Daily News
The 1930 Hopedale list of poll tax payers records John Stanas as living at 4 Jones Road. (That being
the street now called Lower Jones Road.) His age was 20 and his occupation was machinist. His
parents lived at the same address.
John Stanas - picture copied from
the original at the Bancroft Library.
|Stanas Was Pride of Hopedale
By James Buckley