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, abrilliant undergraduate career leading to All-American honors in1958, and then a sensational comeback in Master’s swimmingthat brought him additional All-American honors. And yet, none ofthis might have happened except for an incident that took place inhis freshman year. Based on his size, ability, and prep schoolreputation, the 6-2, 195-pounder from Pittsfield, Mass., and SouthKent School appeared to become one of the standouts at end on theBrown’s football squad. But he suffered a serious head injuryhalfway through his freshman season and was advised to give up thesport. So, although Coach Al Kelley lost a promising end, JoeWatmough gained one of the best swimming prospects in theschool’s history. But that’s what Barr Clayson was atthat point, a prospect. The potential was there even though thecompetitive background was nil. What he did have was finecoordination, a powerful kick, and the secret to it all – astrong desire to hone his skills by working hard and absorbing thewords of wisdom uttered by Coach Watmough. Evidence ofClayson’s rapid development is that he improved his time inthe 200-yard backstroke from three minutes flat to 2:26 in oneyear. “Of all the swimmers I coached, none showed the steadyimprovement Barr did during those years we spent together at LymanPool,” Coach Watmough said recently. The years Watmoughrefers to brought Barr Clayson Brown records in the 200, 100, and50-yard backstroke events, a host of Colgate Hoyt Pool records, anda New England AAU mark in the 100-yard backstroke. In dual meetcompetition, he was undefeated in his junior year and lost onlyonce, to Yale, as a senior. After narrowly missing making the U.S.Olympic team in 1960, Barr Clayson took a 17-yard hiatus fromswimming before joining the Master’s program and setting newrecords. He was national record holder in the backstroke events inboth 1980 and 1981 and was named to the Master’s All-Americanteams in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1982. He’s currently adirector of U.S. Master Swimming, Inc. During his prep school daysin Connecticut, Clayson was president of his class for fivestraight years. He’s also president of his class at Brown,has served as a member of the National Steering Committee of theBrown University Fund, and was chairman of the 25th Reunion GiftCommittee for 1958 a year ago. Barr is managing director and chiefinvestment officer of Standish, Ayer & Wood, Inc., of Boston.He and Pamela live in Weston, Mass., from where they have sent allthree children to Brown – Jennifer ’81, Davis’86, and Wendy ’87.