PORTLAND – Richard “Dick” Lucas was a swimming sensation at Portland High School, where he became a three-time All-American and racked up accomplishments like winning the popular Peaks-to-Portland swim in 1947 at age 16 and setting a national record in the 50-yard backstroke.

Though Mr. Lucas had great success in the pool and later as a fisherman, nothing topped the love and devotion he had for his wife and three children. He died May 9 at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. He was 81.

Mr. Lucas grew up in Portland and lived most of his life on Melbourne Street. He graduated from Portland High School in 1950.

It was during his senior year that Mr. Lucas set the national 50-yard backstroke record, clocking 26.8 seconds in Bowdoin College’s Curtis Pool. Weeks later, he set the world record with a time of 26.1 seconds, a record that stood for nearly 20 years. He also broke national records in the 150-yard and 300-yard medley relays swimming with fellow PHS boys’ swim team members Gordon Sellick and Warren Knowles.

Mr. Lucas, who was coached by the legendary Harold Paulson, led Portland to four state championships and three New England championship titles.

Mr. Lucas was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Maine Sports Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001.

His son, Richard Lucas, who set two of his own state records in the state swimming championships at Portland High School, said one of his father’s proudest accomplishments was inspiring kids on Munjoy Hill to get involved in sports. He talked with pride about his father’s 1947 win in the annual Peaks-to-Portland swim.

“It was a big thing for many kids on The Hill to see him win that event,” his son said. “It got many of them interested in sports and several of them swimming.”

Mr. Lucas was married to Coletta Lucas for 61 years. In his early years, he worked for Breggy Oil and Jordan Meats. He then pursued his lifelong passion for owning and operating his own lobster boat, the “Coletta R.”

For most of his career, he was a fisherman. His son said Mr. Lucas fished for about 15 years, spending a week to two weeks at sea and cooking meals for the crew.

“He very much enjoyed being out to sea, but he didn’t like being away from his family,” his son said. “He loved the ocean.”

He was remembered by his son on Thursday as a dedicated family man with a passion for cooking and a zest for life.

Mr. Lucas was also a witty guy who could easily converse with anyone and loved talking about the Red Sox.

In his later years, Mr. Lucas and his wife lived in Daytona Beach, Fla., where they enjoyed the warm weather and riding their tricycles.

In 2006, the couple returned to Maine and immersed themselves in their grandchildren’s lives. His son said they rarely missed a school or family event.

“My father had a strong love for his family ,” he said. “We were very much held together by my parents’ love.”

Coletta Lucas died unexpectedly 10 months ago. Since then, Mr. Lucas found comfort in visits from his siblings, his children and grandchildren.

On the day he died, Mr. Lucas was surrounded by 20 or so of his family members. His daughter’s dog, Bella, was lying on his lap.

“It was special for all of us to be there,” his son said. “It speaks to what a loving man he was.”

His full obituary will appear in Sunday’s newspaper.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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