We’ve been glued to the Olympics lately, watching all those gorgeous bodies undulating in the water, through the air, and across land. I’m so amazed at what the human spirit can endure, let along what physical feats the body able to accomplish.
Back in 1961, my brother Jim was a swimming contender for the Olympics. Our family had little money, but thankfully, he was able to secure a full scholarship to USC, which helped propel him to athletic greatness. I remember attending a few meets down at USC where my brother would wow his family, friends and teammates with his finesse.
Living with an athlete in the family wasn’t easy. When my brother was home, anything in the refrigerator was fair game, and because he was training so hard, most of the contents in the fridge would evaporate whenever he was around. In fact, all my brothers ate a lot, as they were also athletic, but my brother Jim? It was like a herd of locusts devouring a wheat field whenever he was home.
When I watch Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, I’m reminded of my brother. Their tight torsos, expansive wingspans and masterful strokes all take me back to the early 60’s when we’d cheer for Jim as he dominated the lanes.
As fate would have it, while racing, Jim’s bathing suit came loose, and that ended his Olympic quest. Not sure if his family jewels were in full view for the crowds to see, but the drag from the fabric slowed him down by several seconds. Once you’re out, you’re out. Can’t race again due to a wardrobe malfunction.
Jim continued with his swimming pursuits after his stab at the Olympics were over, but I’m sure nothing really compared to that five-ring glow in the years to come.