Apr 18, 2018

Philips Andover Aquatics: Beefcake since 1912

Phillips Andover Academy, an elite private school in Andover, Massachusetts, has trained hundreds of notable people, including Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan), Presidents Bush Junior and Senior, gay writer Paul Monette, and my friend, crazy-as- loon Matt.

It has had an aquatics team since 1912, with team photographs from each year posted on its website.

Notice the chest-covering swimsuits in the early years

In 1938 a few brave souls pose bare-chested for the camera; it was still considered a bit indecent, illegal in many cities.

By 1945, they're all bare-chested.  They play the Olneyville Boy's Club, the Boston Boys' Club, Harvard Freshmen, and Gardner High.  The captain has the odd name of Chips Lazo (real name Mario; his father designed airports).

In 1963 we see the first nonwhite athletes.  They also start looking younger.  I've noticed that in a lot of old photos: before the 1960s, teenagers looked like men in their 30s today.

Through the 1970s they're all photographed wearing white jerseys.  Got to cover up those chests.

In 1986 we see the first Asian boys.

More after the break

The 1992 team is inexplicably buffed.  Did the gym get new weight training equipment?

The captains are Jason Heim and Noah Caruso. 

Color photos finally appear in 2005.  No one is smiling, even though they won 4 games out of 6.  I guess there was a lot of economic turmoil that year.

Notice the racial diversity in 2012.  The captains are Derek Choi (who went onto Harvard) and Lorenzo Conti (now an actor).

Here's the 2017 team.  They won 8 of 9 games against Choate, Loomis, St. Johns Prep, Exeter, and so on.


  1. Kind of interedtimg, since bare male torsos were obviously always Code-acceptable, even bare for the whole film, hence Tarzan and Hercules movies could be made, but still slightly indecent IRL.

    This actually surprised me. (Huge "dear white people" rant alert!) Elite institutions as a whole were some of the last bastions of segregation outside of the South. (And the West, if you're an Indian. The only state to my knowledge where an American Legion hall has been used for a lynching would be South Dakota. In 1972.) They weren't on federal funding, so they couldn't be penalized that way; and when it risked their accreditation, they would admit a few tokens and that was it. I would've expected the first black students in the late 60s or 70s. What's interesting is how quickly these institutions forgot their past, pretending instead that policies instituted by law, homeowners' associations, banks, academic institutions, and various places rich people congregate, were all exclusively the domain of "white trash".

  2. The 1992 'buff' picture is partly explained by the lighting. Look at the shadows. Hard shadows where there was little shadow before, and a side angle (see the backwall light). The photographer evidently knew a thing or two about physique photography.


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