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Gold in the Water: The True Story of…

Gold in the Water: The True Story of Ordinary Men and Their Extraordinary…

by P. H. Mullen

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This summer I went swimming
This summer I might have drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
And I moved myself around, I moved myself around..." --Louden Wainwright III

Yup. I'm feeling pretty cool right about now. Just back from a few weeks in
the Sierras: burning out the soles of my hightops storming up the dusty
trails, then kicking them off, splashing in, and doing half-mile-long laps
back and forth across a bunch of pristine mountain lakes. That's me--Richie,
the Piscean swimming fool. Not bad for someone with more than a touch of
grey, who spends so much time lying around reading books.

But all I've got to do to bring myself down from this self-heralded pinnacle
of coolness is to think about the truly amazing young, and not-so-young,
athletes I recently encountered in GOLD IN THE WATER by P. H. Mullin.
Primarily set in Santa Clara, California, this fascinating chronicle of
Olympic hopefuls aiming for Sidney in 2000 is the best new book about
swimming that I've read since WHALE TALK. And like the title says, this one
is a true story.

Now it's one thing to contemplate finding yourself in the midst of some
once-in-a-lifetime survival story. It's quite another thing to imagine
purposefully getting up one miserably grey and rainy winter morning after
another, jumping into a cold pool, and spending hours at the hands of a
maniacal coach and a daily regimen that sounds little different in intensity
than what you'd be enduring in those survival stories. Brrr! Some of the
descriptions make me think they should have called this one COLD IN THE

Day after day, mile after mile, counting progress in hundreths of a second,
these men and women subordinate all other aspects of their lives for the
chance to make it to the Big Enchilada--the opportunity to represent their
homeland in the Olympics. Now the title may also claim that these are
ordinary men, but that may be stretching it. For instance, you'll encounter
Kurt Grote, a guy who was simultaneously making his way through Stanford
Medical School while maintaining his dreams of gold, another, Dod Wales, who
was a second generation Olympic hopeful, and a woman, three-time former US
Olympian, Dara Torres, who decided to try a comeback despite being nearly old
enough to have given birth to some of her competitors.

"This summer I swam in the ocean
And I swam in a swimming pool
Salt my wounds, chlorine my eyes
I'm a self-destructive fool, a self destructive fool..."

But these athletes are not machines. The author is a former competitive
swimmer himself. His constant access to many of these characters reveals the
day to day fluctuations in their physical and mental states as they push
themselves to the brink--and sometimes, sadly, beyond it. And then there is
their coach, Dick Jochums--a driven man who had gone from glory to exile and
is now on the way back up. Like his swimmers he casts everything else aside.
His hope is twofold: both motivating his top performers to world-record
paces as they approach the tryouts and of gaining himself a coaching spot on
the US Olympic squad.

Hundreds of thousands of kids around the US head to the Y or to the town pool
each year and learn to swim. Despite the absence of the lucrative pro
contracts that await the upcoming stars of "major" sports, many thousands of
these young people continue training for years, becoming competitive swimmers
with that dream of gold in the distance. Although published for adults, GOLD
IN THE WATER is a fascinating read for teens. These tales of motivation,
victory, and defeat will intrigue all sorts of young athletes, as well as old
swimmers like me whose summer vacation workouts climax with racing that
smartmouthed eleven-year-old upstart to the big rock in the middle of the

Richie Partington
BudNotBuddy at aol.com ( )
  richiespicks | May 27, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312311168, Paperback)

In California, a team of talented young men begin pursuing the most elusive dream in sports, the Olympic Games. The pressure steadily increases as two best friends (a mentor and his protégé) reach the top of the world rankings and unexpectedly find themselves direct competitors. Their teammates include an emerging star methodically plotting to retrace his father's path to Olympic glory, as well as a super-extraordinary athlete desperate to walk away from it all. Led by one of the most passionate coaches in sports, a brilliant and explosive strategist on a personal quest for redemption, this team of dark horses and Olympic favorites works through escalating rivalries, joyous triumphs, and heartbreaking setbacks.

Author P. H. Mullen chronicles their journey to the 2000 Olympic Games and presents one of the most powerful and moving sports books ever written. Boldly sweeping in literary power and pace, this startling book will permanently change how you view the Olympic athlete.

It is a fascinating world of suspense and emotion where human desire for excellence rules over all, and where there are no second chances for glory. But above all, Gold in the Water is a triumph of the human spirit.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:08 -0400)

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