If swimming is an analogy for life, Alice Wright Belknap, 75A, 79GE, dives right in. Literally.
At the age of 66, she swims several times a week, sometimes racing members of UofL’s world-renowned swim team, generally winning (with a huge head start at her request).
The daughter of Violet and Ralph Wright, swimming is in Alice’s blood. Her dad, formed and coached the first Cardinal aquatic team in 1948-49. A World War II veteran, Ralph flourished as an officer and swimming rep for the Marine Corp stationed in Honolulu after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, teaching soldiers how to survive in the water. He broke the World and Olympic record for the 200-meter breaststroke in 1946. He met and married his wife, Violet, in 1944 while in Quantico. He died at the age of 45 in 1966, just before one of his swimmers won an Olympic medal. Ralph Wright was inducted into the UofL Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Ralph Wright Natatorium officially opened in 2005.
“My father encouraged swimmers to be their best in and out of the water; his spirit lives on in the natatorium,” said Alice, a two-time UofL graduate instrumental in funding the natatorium. “It is a tremendous thrill to see so many ages and backgrounds using
the pool. We have Olympians, Special Olympians, professors, staff, students, and children taking lessons — happy healthy people in the water. ‘Build it and they will come’ is my motto.”
A champion swimmer herself, Alice was a world- and national-record holder as a Masters swimmer, and serves as a mentor for the UofL swimming and diving teams, who currently hold four world relay records and ten American records. “We have an atmosphere of growing swimmers and divers at UofL; The recent World Swimming Championships in Budapest is a testament to our high standards of performance under Coach Albiero and his awesome assistants,” she said.
With a B.A. in Art History – Humanities and M.A. in Education, Alice gravitated towards jobs in human service, focusing on persons with developmental disabilities. She also taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for 15 years through Catholic Charities English School for Refugees, two years of ESL for Jefferson County Public Schools, substituted in a regular classroom for three years and spent five years as a caregiver in a group home. Currently retired, Alice works weekly at the Home of the Innocents in the therapy pool. A devout Catholic, she also is a board member of Interfaith Paths to Peace, council on Developmental Disabilities member, Cherokee Round Table writing group, and supporter of Berea College (in memory of her late father-in-law). She has two sons, Ian (Clair), Benjamin (Luciana), and granddaughter Mikaela.
“I give the glory to God,” she said.
Courier Journal’s Woman Athlete of the Year
National Champion Jr Olympics; USA vs. Canada Duel Meet breaststroke gold medalist
U.S. National Silver Medalist four times
USA team member World University Games in Turino, Italy
Set a world record in 50 Meter Breaststroke; two gold medals in a World Masters Championship; Collectively held 15 national titles inMasters swimming