The Many Faces Of Professor Paul Jagasich

The Many Faces Of Professor Paul Jagasich

The Many Faces Of Professor Paul Jagasich

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Paul Anthony Jagasich was a highly respected language educator and translator who wrote and translated many books and publications. He also swam from England to France, receiving the O’Clee Jubilee Cup as the oldest swimmer in 1988 at the age of 54.

While 54 may not seem old nowadays, back in 1988, it was considered to be quite a feat.

But his 12 hour 26 minute crossing of the English Channel was nothing like his travels in 1964.

In 1964, two years after he and his wife were married, Professor Jagasich decided to defect from Hungary. He, his wife and 18-month daughter flew to Switzerland and found their way to Italy, where they stayed in refugee camps and he started to translate for the Italian government, often translating for other refugees.

Eventually, Professor Jagasich and his family moved on to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, before ending up at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

Among the many translations that he did, he translated The Casting of Bells by Czechoslovakian poet Jaroslav Seifert. In 1984, it won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Besides his work, the professor became interested in swimming the English Channel while studying for his doctorate in German and French at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany. For two years he trained, and swam the 7.08 km Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, 45.9 km Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and the 12.8 km Boston Light Swim. He ultimately made the crossing from Shakespeare’s Cliff to France.

During my swim, my coach [Corrie Dixon] turned to my wife and told her that I would do it because I was a fanatic,” he recalled. He wrote a book about his experiences leading up to and in the English Channel called Two Faces of the English Channel.

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Steven Munatones