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Robert W. Hackett Jr., Class of 1977

Olympic Medalist, Swimming
Father of Two Prep Graduates

Robert Hackett Jr. was born in August 1959 to Robert Hackett Sr., a Westchester County police officer, and Joyce Ann Unterman Hackett, an office worker and homemaker. Together with his brother Mark and his sister Kathryn, Bobby grew up in Yonkers, New York. Hackett learned to swim when he was 5 years old at his local YMCA and CYO. From that humble start, he would become a swimmer of major importance in the 1970s. In fact, he was already a top-tier swimmer during his grammar school days at St. Casimir's. Bob entered Fordham Prep as a member of the Class of 1977.

As the silver medal winner in the 1,500-meter freestyle at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Hackett is one of the Prep’s three Olympic medal winners, along with rower John Mulcahy Class of 1891 and tennis player Vincent Richards Class of 1920. Hackett remains the only student-medalist to date.

He won gold and silver medals at the 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City. At age 16, he qualified for the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team, making him the youngest male member of that squad. After his outstanding Olympic performance, Bob went on to win two silver medals and a gold medal at the World Championships in 1978. Along the way, he was named Outstanding Swimmer at the Catholic Nationals and was an All-American in each of his four years at Fordham Prep.

Aftyer the Prep, he went to Harvard University, graduating in 1981. Bob was awarded an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1986.

Hackett competed for four years at Harvard University and gained All-American rankings on numerous occasions. He was voted team captain in his senior year. As a final tribute to his outstanding performance at Harvard, he was awarded the William J. Bingham Award, which is given to the member of the graduating class who “through academic and athletic integrity, courage and ability has best served the high purpose of Harvard.” William J. Bingham, a 1916 graduate of Harvard, was an Olympian and athletic director at Harvard.

At the time of his induction into the Prep Hall of Honor, Boib still held the national record for the 15-16-year-old age group in the 1500-meter freestyle. He and three other swimmers involved in the 1976 Olympics were the subjects of Chuck Warner’s 1999 book, Four Champions, One Medal. During his swimming career, he set two world records and four American records.

Bob and his wife, Diane Kenny, were married in 1984 and have raised three sons: Ryan, Sean and Liam. Ryan and Sean graduated from the Prep in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Hackett is regional director for Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate services company.

Robert Hackett carried the Olympic torch at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He still likes to swim — but only for exercise. 

A devoted husband and father, an individual who has always been generous with his time and talent, and a loyal son of Fordham, Bob stands by the quote he picked for the 1977 yearbook:

It is better to be remembered for what you are than what you have done.