The unexpected wave that defined an Olympic swimming race | On the Line

The unexpected wave that defined an Olympic swimming race | On the Line

I panicked and thought,
“I have to clear this.” I took a stroke,
I came up for another breath and I got no air at all. Then I began to really feel
like I was choking, partly because my body
was exhausted. And I reached
for the lane marker and once I hit the lane… ..this other voice came back
from when I was ten years old, from a coach who had said, “If you ever touch the lane,
you’re disqualified.” (UNEXPECTED WAVE
30TH AUGUST 1960) In the Olympic pool, the final
of the 100-metre butterfly. (CAROLYN WOOD
OLYMPIAN 1960 – USA) Hello? This is Carolyn. I had no idea at 13 and 14 what it meant to go to Europe or what it meant
to go to the Olympics. I was the first person in my
family to have a passport, to even think about going
any place other than Canada. Two things when we arrived
in Rome that I can remember was the bus was so modern. It was, like, space age. But then out the window
were these people… ..who looked different
than Americans. And there were columns and old ruins. And it was… I don’t know, it was just,
like, otherworldly. In lane four, dark hair and
18 years old, Carolyn Schuler, who is the first to pass
the 50 metres. I wanted to be in
the opening ceremonies, but the next day
was the opening races. So I was swimming four events – 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly, the freestyle relay
and the medley relay. Two days before, we had an audience
with the Pope John XXIII. And I did go to that,
it was extraordinary, but my feet killed me. And that was kind of
when I knew I couldn’t be
in the opening ceremonies. I was not really the youngest. The youngest on the team was
Donna de Varona, who was 13. And the oldest member
of the team was 19. So our average age
was like 16 and a half or 17. In 1960, we didn’t have
goggles, so our eyes were
bathed in chlorine all the time. You know, four hours a day. The Californian swimmers
always had bright, shiny, blond hair that would turn slightly green, and we all had bloodshot eyes
all the time. When you’d come out
of swim practice, all the lights on the streets would have big halos
around them, everything would be fuzzy for
an hour and a half. (LYNN BURKE
OLYMPIAN 1960 – USA) Hello, this is Lynn Burke. So we got to swim a lot
in the practice pools. And the whole time
we were there, the coaches were complaining
about the level of the water in the main Olympic arena. It was too low. So if you’re leading a race
and you come out of the turn, you’d get like a wave
come right at you. The coaches were all discussing
it with the officials to please fill up the pools
higher, higher, higher. I guess to no avail. So when we set world records,
it was amazing because they call it
“a slow pool”, because you have the waves,
a little bit of waves instead of being smooth
like glass, like you see now on television. We as a team had
some worries about the pool. So if you can imagine
eight swimmers swimming towards
the end of the pool. Three of them are… two or three or four seconds
ahead of the rest. They’re pushing a wave
in front of them. I expected that
I was going to win, because I had beaten
Carolyn Schuler several times in the United
States the previous year. I’ve been first
at the Olympic trials. And I felt really good. I had a strategy
that I would come out of the turn
and take two or three strokes, two strokes, not breathing… ..take a breath and I would be past the wave that followed us. (KRISTINA LARSSON
7TH PLACE – SWEDEN) Hello, Kristina Larsson here. And it was an Olympic final
and we had two false starts, so I think that all of us
were pretty nervous. But we could only jump in
and swim the final as fast as you could. On the first 50 metres, I was breathing to the left… I couldn’t see the other swimmers until we turned
after 50 metres, when I could see some of them. And when I’d swum a bit
on the last 50 metres I missed a girl in the lane on my left. But I couldn’t think
much about that. I swam as fast as I could
and finished the race. And I blame
the two false starts that modified
the concentration on the final. So that night I felt strong, I felt fast,
I was buoyant, I was riding the light,
is what it felt like. And I came out of the turn,
aware that I was ahead. I took my two strokes,
I took a breath, I was clear. I took a stroke
and I started into my… my pattern of breathing
and the next time I came up, I hit the wave
of the slower swimmers, the ones who were three
or four seconds behind who were still
coming into the turn. I didn’t just choke on it,
I breathed the whole wave of water in. And, you know, I panicked. I took a stroke,
I came up for another breath and I got no air at all. I was choking. I reached for the lane
and once I hit the lane, all my hope was gone. I was disqualified
because I had stopped. That’s when I began to cry and hang on the lane row. And I could see the swimmers
go past, the slower ones. I heard the cheers
when Carolyn Schuler finished. And then, all of a sudden,
this guy was in the water, grabbing my arm,
and apparently he had… When all the swimmers
had finished, I was still crying
on the lane row. He jumped to rescue me. Well, I wasn’t, I wasn’t… ..rescuable,
I was crying, I was… I had to swim to the end of
the pool and that was important to my personal mythology. So I recovered,
I swam to the end of the pool, I congratulated
Carolyn Schuler… ..and then I got out and ran
and cried some more. And when she got out
of the pool, they had like a big place
behind the starting blocks, they took her in there
with a nurse and everything. I went running down the pool,
trying to find her. And it was really sad. And after she was calmed down
and everything, we had to stand up because they were playing
the national anthem. And she said,
“They’re playing… song for that girl.” When I look back
and I look at that little girl, I think
what I want her to know is it’s not the end. You lose a race
and it’s just a race. Life goes on and it’s OK, it’s not the end of the world. There’s always the next race. You take it
and you learn from it. (FIVE DAYS LATER, CAROLYN WOOD

95 Replies to “The unexpected wave that defined an Olympic swimming race | On the Line”

  1. thought it was about lezak taking advantage of the "wave" created by alain in Beijing 2008 medley relay.
    guess they should make a video about it.. really interesting.

  2. "two things when we arrived in Rome that I can remember was… the bus was so modern" … all the romans watching immediately laugh and cry at the same time

  3. What hpapened to every olympic video having subtitles for english I really wonder how many people here speak swedish/english 🙁 I just want all the info

  4. Just read a little of her life story and it is pretty interesting. She worked one summer as a lifeguard and the powers that be decided that was professional work and she was disqualified from all future olympics and collegiate scholarships even though she was one of the top swimmers in the world. She had some tough breaks.

  5. I inhaled a whole lung of water
    In a race I had to hypo the rest of the 100
    I inhaled the lung of water at about 30m
    Really hard race

  6. I hope everyone is doing ok x???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  7. I hope yall are doing ok x?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  8. It's amazing to think how much technology and swimming in general have improved since then. At 13, I was swimming times in the 100 fly that could have beaten all of them…

  9. This swimmer paid the price of the incompetence of the athletic officials. I don't swim butterfly, but my niece always qualifies for that event at the Olympic trials. Now there are other controversial decisions that the officials make for political reasons that deny many swimmers the opportunity to swim those races. Merit, politics, technology advances, and sponsorship issues appear to be obstacles participants have to endure just to have the chance to compete.

  10. Many such pool still exist, especially in competitions in less developed countries. Had one in Thailand a few years back, not only were the water level low, my coach said the layout of the pool made the waves even worse, the walls were high walls but with drains in the middle of it. One of the worse pools I swam in, the warm-up pool walls were covered in algae and the diving boards had no grip. One of my teammates had to get stitches as he slipped during a relay dive and his shin hits the diving board

  11. Get a new editor. The graphic effects are horrific.
    Looks like they were done by either a 10 year old or a 90 year old… or just done in the 1960's.

  12. the same happened with me in school games, it was breast stroke and i was leading with another guy pretty close when this happened. The fault was mine though, I swallowed in water and felt an urge to stop, but somehow I could not do that and ended up just somehow reaching the end line with just kicks. That would have resulted in state level qualification but I missed out on it, and had to focus more on studies than on swimming.

  13. One of the best races of my swimming career was a 100 butterfly where I inhaled lungfuls of water (which happens a lot in butterfly because there are waves created naturally from the motion of the stroke) choked and couldn't breathe for the last 15 yards, and I still managed to get my first D1 state cut. Like I feel for the girl, I know the panic quite well, but just like she said her coach told her, I knew full well what would happen if I stopped, and i'm glad I didn't.

  14. You get waves from the two middle lanes now anyway, that’s why the two fastest qualifiers take those lanes because they’re the fastest & don’t catch waves, hence why most winners come from the middle lanes.

  15. "they're playing my song for that girl"?? That girl was a fellow American and teammate who was clearly ahead at the turn.

    The only part of this video that was worth watching was the moment when Ms. Schuler's well deserved medal was placed around her neck.

    What an embarassing display of poor sportsmanship by Ms. Wood. Not sure why the Olympic channel would give this "athlete" a platform.

  16. Just be honest – did your editor get totally high on LSD before putting all this video together? It was just so chaotic and disorganized.

  17. That's the stupidest editing I have seen on these videos.
    Triple white bright dots, halos, monochrome to random colors and strobe lights, and those caricature purple tears towards the end.. Was the editor high

  18. This is quite a bizarre video. Where we English speakers just not expected to know what the Swedish girl was talking about? There was no beginning middle and end to this so-called narrative.

  19. tbh, her stroke technique is kinda weird if you are gonna take a breath, it just looks tiring trying to pick your whole head up at that stroke rate after a full 50

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