Wednesday, April 22

Berkeley Barracudas

Another photo from Devi circa 1979 I think .. hard to imagine but at the time Katie and I logging close to 15,000 yards a day or about ten miles .. swimming ! I would not contemplate running this distance at my now, ahem, advanced age - or any age, for that matter. On top of the swimming, we were doing the usual weights, pull-chords and stretching for about five hours a day at King Jr High pool - which was a nasty little place but for many years my second home. Moe would drive us to practice in the Volvo 544 rain, sleet or shine while he would swim his laps and we had our own lane, usually to ourselves though sometimes with another Barracuda. Mondays were the hardest, knowing a full week ahead+my shoulders and body not fully prepared for the mileage and always achy. And the goal then? Well, initially it was Far Westerns which were held twice a year for the short course season (25 yards) and long-course (50 meters) requiring "AAA" qualification times. Then Junior Nationals and finally Seniors and college. Similar to Eitan's room postered every inch with Ronaldo and Manchester United, I had John Nabor who won four golds at the '76 Olympics and set World Records in the backstroke. He stared at me blankly from the back-stroke start and I dreamed of his success. Other hero's were Jeff Kostoff who set every American short-course distance record but failed at the Olympics; old-timer Rowdy Gaines who hung around for '84 to win a gold in the 100 meter freestyle ('80 boycotted, of course) and the great Vladimir Salnikov - the first man under 15 minutes in the 1500 meter freestyle. My mind's eye sees his finish: beefy arms held gently yet triumphantly skyward, eyes closed in relief or pain. Wow. Pictured in front from left: me, Mari, Katie and Leslie Hunt; back row, Tom Vorhees (whose distance records I broke in High School and still hold today - true, Moe?) and Maggie Kelley the backstroker.