1941, Alfred Nakache set the World 200-Meter Breaststroke
in Marseilles and was one-third of the
French 3 x 100 relay team that established
a World record in August 1946
(3:19.9) at Toulouse. Only one month
later, the Frenchmen lowered their relay
mark to 3:12.3 in Marseilles.
Between 1936 and 1946, Nakache
won the French 100-Meter Freestyle six
times, the 200-Meter Freestyle four
times, the 200-Meter Breaststroke four
times, and an assortment of other
French swimming titles, many of them
setting national records.
Nakache was a member of France’s
Olympic Swimming Teams of 1936 and
1948 and also played Olympic water
polo for France in 1948.
But, his aquatic career was interrupted
and put on hold during the
German occupation of France during
World War II. Following his defeat of
the German champion, Joachim Balke,
en route to his World Breaststroke
record in 1941, and soon after setting
another European swimming record, a
French journalist wrote: “The Jew
Nakache should not be allowed to
hold any European titles because he is
Jewish.” All sorts of subterfuges were employed to
keep Nakache from competing
in German-occupied France, but other French swimmers withdrew
from National competitions in support
of their fellow athlete.
In spite of this support, Nakache
was eventually arrested and deported
with his wife, also a ranking swimmer,
and their two-year-old daughter to
Auschwitz in January 1944. Of the
1,368 men, women, and children in
their death camp convoy, only 47 survived.
His wife and daughter perished.
Nakache’s triumph in setting the
3 x 100 World Relay record in 1946 occurred
less than a year after his liberation