Davis Barr Clayson
Davis Barr Clayson
Hometown: Pittsfield, MA
Team: Swimming & Diving

Davis Barr Clayson '58
Hometown:
 Pittsfield, MA
Sport:
Swimming & Diving
Year Inducted:
1983

Davis Barr Clayson ’58 has had two lives in swimming, a brilliant undergraduate career leading to All-American honors in 1958, and then a sensational comeback in Master’s swimming that brought him additional All-American honors. And yet, none of this might have happened except for an incident that took place in his freshman year. Based on his size, ability, and prep school reputation, the 6-2, 195-pounder from Pittsfield, Mass., and South Kent School appeared to become one of the standouts at end on the Brown’s football squad. But he suffered a serious head injury halfway through his freshman season and was advised to give up the sport. So, although Coach Al Kelley lost a promising end, Joe Watmough gained one of the best swimming prospects in the school’s history. But that’s what Barr Clayson was at that point, a prospect. The potential was there even though the competitive background was nil. What he did have was fine coordination, a powerful kick, and the secret to it all – a strong desire to hone his skills by working hard and absorbing the words of wisdom uttered by Coach Watmough. Evidence of Clayson’s rapid development is that he improved his time in the 200-yard backstroke from three minutes flat to 2:26 in one year. “Of all the swimmers I coached, none showed the steady improvement Barr did during those years we spent together at Lyman Pool,” Coach Watmough said recently. The years Watmough refers to brought Barr Clayson Brown records in the 200, 100, and 50-yard backstroke events, a host of Colgate Hoyt Pool records, and a New England AAU mark in the 100-yard backstroke. In dual meet competition, he was undefeated in his junior year and lost only once, to Yale, as a senior. After narrowly missing making the U.S. Olympic team in 1960, Barr Clayson took a 17-yard hiatus from swimming before joining the Master’s program and setting new records. He was national record holder in the backstroke events in both 1980 and 1981 and was named to the Master’s All-American teams in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1982. He’s currently a director of U.S. Master Swimming, Inc. During his prep school days in Connecticut, Clayson was president of his class for five straight years. He’s also president of his class at Brown, has served as a member of the National Steering Committee of the Brown University Fund, and was chairman of the 25th Reunion Gift Committee for 1958 a year ago. Barr is managing director and chief investment officer of Standish, Ayer & Wood, Inc., of Boston. He and Pamela live in Weston, Mass., from where they have sent all three children to Brown – Jennifer ’81, Davis ’86, and Wendy ’87.