1983 INDUCTION TO THE RHODE ISLAND AQUATIC HALL OF FAME
Russell starred in AAU competition for Joe Watmough at the Olneyville Boys’ Club as a teenager. At one time he held every state and New England backstroke record from 50 to 150 yards! He competed for Hope High School in 1931, 1932, 1933, winning the backstroke in the Brown Interscholastic; New England Interscholastic; and Nation High School championships. While still in high school, he defeated the best swimmers for Brown University. In 1935 he was picked as one of the top swimmers in the United States to compete against the national team from Japan. He made this trip with Johnny Higgins and Matt Chrostowski – his teammates at Olneyville Boys’ Club. This trio set national and world records in the Medley Relay. He upset the national backstroke champion in the 1935 National Championships held in Detroit – beating Taylor Drysdale in the 100 backstroke. All three won their events against the Japanese Olympic team in that exhibition match in Japan in 1935 – prior to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He was a teammate of Johnny Higgins at Ohio State University prior to the 1936 Olympics.