40 years of swimming world
The first official issue of Junior Swimmerwhich soon would become Swimming World and Junior Swimmer-was published by Al Schoenfield in North Hollywood, Calif. With only 16 pages (mostly of age group coverage), a price of 50 cents and no advertising whatsoever, the future did not look particularly bright.
Actually the magazine began life in 1952 as a mimeographed publication put together by Peter Daland and Yale University coach Bob Kiphuth. Schoenfield took over in 1960 and changed it to a magazine format.
The first page announced that Beth Kaufman-who founded the age group program in 1948-would be joining the magazine’s advisory board.
The January 1960 issue listed the 1959 age group champions in all six courses in which the AAU then kept records: 20 yards, 25 yards, 50 yards, 25 meters, 50 meters and 55 yards. The rankings were dominated by swimmers from California. Among the age group champs were future Olympians Donna de Varona and Chris Von Saltza.
Charlie Hickox and Debbie Meyer were named Swimming World’s male and female World Swimmers of the Year for 1968.
Hickox, 21, a senior at Indiana University, won three gold and a silver medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Competing for Doc Counsilman’s Bloomington Swim Club, Hickox set world records in both the 200 (2:10.6) and 400 IM (4:39.0) at Olympic Trials.
Meyer, 16, was queen of distance swimming, holding world records at every distance from 200 to 1500 meters. A high school junior who swam for Sherm Chavoor’s Arden Hills team, Meyer became the first woman ever to win three individual golds at one Olympiad, taking the 200, 400 and 800. At Olympic Trials, she set world records in all three events: 2:06.7, 4:24.5 and 9:10.4.
John Trembley, now coach of the University of Tennessee but then a high school junior in upstate New York, set conference records in the 50 yard free (22.7) and 100 fly (55.9).
With the 1980 Olympics in Moscow looming in one year, U.S. women dominated the world rankings for the first time since 1973, leading George Haines, coach of the 1978 U.S. World Championship team, to proclaim: “It looks like our four-year plan to get back on top came true in two years.”
Leading the way was 15-year-old Tracy Caulkins of the Nashville Aquatic Club, who set world records in both IMs (2:14.07 and 4:40.83) and tied the world mark in the 200 fly (2:09.87). She also ranked second in the 100 free and 100 breast.
Cynthia “Sippy” Woodhead stormed her way to six top-25 rankings, highlighted by a world record in the 200 free (1:58.53).
Australia’s Tracey Wickham set astonishing world records in the 400 (4:06.28), 800 (8:24.62) and 1500 meter freestyles (16:14.93).
Haines’ euphoria turned out to be premature, however, as East Germany’s state-sponsored cheaters continued to dominate women’s swimming until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The U.S. men still owned world swimming in ’79, recording more than 48 percent of all top-25 times. Mission Viejo’s Jesse Vassallo, 17, set a world mark (4:20.05) in the 400 IM at World Championships, then added a second gold with the year’s fastest time in the 200 back, earning him World Swimmer of the Year honors.
Sprinter David McCagg topped the world rankings in the 100 (50.24), but a youngster named Rowdy Gaines was beginning to make a name for himself. Unranked among the world’s top 100 in 1977, he jumped to sixth in the 100 and second in the 200. Gaines later went on to set world marks in both events. Joe Bottom led the world in the 100 fly (54.21), Mike Bruner in the 200 (1:59.38), while Bob Jackson was the world’s best 100 backstroker (56.33).
Rising Soviet distance star Vladimir Salnikov, a double gold medalist at the World Championships, ranked first at 400, 800 and 1500 meters, showing the promise that eventually led to his setting world marks in all three events.
The AAU suspended 18 American swimmers-including several world champions-from competition for periods ranging from three months to two years for two “minor” but unspecified violations of the AAU Code of Conduct.
Mark Spitz the runner? Nah! The 1972 Olympic hero competed in the Will Rogers 10-K race and finished about 900th in a field of 3,500.
Indiana coach Doc Counsilman was training to swim the English Channel. At 58, he later became the oldest person ever to make the crossing.
Paul Bergen was named ASCA’s Coach of the Year for the second straight year, joining George Haines and Mark Schubert as the only coaches ever to win the award in consecutive years.
10 Years Ago: January 1989
In an effort to attract more media attention, the decision to add the 200 freestyle and medley relays to the NCAA championships later in the year was made despite the opposition of most coaches. USC’s Peter Daland noted: “It throws out any semblance of balance between the sprint and distance events.” Arizona State’s Ron Johnson agreed: “It puts too much emphasis on recruiting to get blasters. It might be fun to watch, but it’s not going to help U.S. swimmers in terms of international success.”
In its annual collegiate forecast, Swimming World picked Texas to win the men’s title over Stanford; Florida to win the women’s crown in a runaway over Stanford and Texas. That’s the way it happened two months later among the men; Florida, however, finished third to Stanford and Texas.
The AAU Foundation of Los Angeles named Matt Biondi and Janet Evans as the recipients of the World Trophy from North America. The sevenfoot tall trophy dates back to 18%.
Olympic triple gold medalist Janet Evans highlighted the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York
5 Years Ago: January 1994
Swimming World published “China’s Short March to Dominance: Hard Work or Drugs?,” a comprehensive indictment of China’s amazing rise to power in women’s world swimming. The article came at a time when no other publication and no U.S. Swimming officials were willing to speak out on the issue. The first salvo in a series of articles that exposed China’s massive cheating, it proved to be right on all accounts and eventually led to China’s unmasking. In its collegiate preview, Swimming World chose the Stanford Cardinal to win both the men’s and women’s NCAA team titles. That’s exactly what happened.
Americans Tracy Caulkins and Sippy Woodhead, Australia’s Michelle Ford and Canada’s Victor Davis topped the 1994 inductees into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Also inducted was 1976 US. Olympic coach Jack Nelson, the only Olympic head coach also to participate in the Olympics as an athlete (1956).
Age Group Swimmers of the Month included 13-year-olds Shelly Ripple and Clara Ho. Both are now freshmen in college: Ripple at Stanford, Ho at Texas A&M.
Copyright Sports Publications, Inc. Jan 1999
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