TEXAS SWIMMING

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Making Waves:


My Journey to Winning Olympic Gold and
Defeating the East German Doping Program

is Shirley Babashoff's new book.

Most in the swimming community know - at least we think we know - Shirley's story.  We know she's that kid from California who got cheated out of medals/records in Montreal back in 1976, right?

Babashoff, along with Chris Epting, gives us, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

Shirley's been on a real roller coaster ride.  Without giving away too much from the book, let's just say she had a very, very tough childhood.

Babashoff was a regular in Swimming World magazine as a teenager.  We all read about the training under Mark Schubert at Mission Viejo.  Remember hearing about those Animal Lane workouts with guys like Brian Goodell?

The '72 Munich Games had been highlighted by Mark Spitz's seven golds.  Both our men's and women's teams had performed very well.

via NBC Sports

Shirley teamed with Jane Barkman, Jenny Kemp, and Sandy Neilson* to win the  400 free relay with a world record of 3:55.19, shaving three seconds off their previous best.

Over the next few years, Shirley went on a record-breaking spree, shattering World and American records.  Her performances at national championships and the '76 Trials were outstanding.

Expectations were very high for Shirley & the rest of our swimmers in the '76 Montreal Games.

Leading up to those games, the media was all over Shirley.  A young Skip Bayless got his feelings hurt when he actually had to work (and wait) for a chance to interview Babashoff.

It was Skip who got the whole "Surly Shirley" thing going.

Since the '72 Olympics, some writers have found shy little Shirley to be big surly Shirley.  As records fell in her wake, she seemed more and more aloof.  Her smile, always Mona Lisa crooked, appeared to be a scowl.  Her laugh, before quick and warm, seemed rusty.

Her obsession for supremacy had curtailed her bike-riding, softball- and volleyball-playing and body surfing.  All work and no play made Shirley a very cranky girl.

What a first-class jerk!  Take it back, Skippy!!

Click to enlarge the pic below and read the entire article.


For the Spitz-less US men, it turned out to be one of the most dominating performances in Olympic swimming history.  Unfortunately, a doped women's squad from East Germany stole what would have been a gold rush for our gals.

DDR got the gold, USA got the shaft.

"Official" results for those games are here

Read more about East Germany's State Plan 14.25 here

The highlight for our women's team in '76 was the 400 free relay.

Up against the heavily favored DDR men women, they came out on top, taking back their world record in the process.

via The News Tribune

Kim Peyton, Wendy Boglioli, Jill Sterkel**, and Babashoff took The Last Gold in 3:44.82, more than ten (10) seconds faster than the record set in Munich.


Shirley's Olympic medal count (combined '72 & '76):

Gold = 2
Silver = 6
Bronze = 0

If When the IOC corrects Montreal results, the medal count becomes:

Gold = 6
Silver = 2
Bronze = 1

Maybe this new movie will get those outside the swimming community on board with the movement to correct the record:


Upcoming Texas showings of The Last Gold:

Tonight - AMC Loews Spring 10***

Thursday - Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline***

August 25 - Aggieland Premiere Cinema 16

October 6 - AMC Gulf Pointe 30

October 6 - AMC Stonebriar 24 & IMAX

Want to host a screening in your community?  Click here

Now, back to Making Waves.  Get your copy (eBook or Hardcover) at amazon

via Swimming World

Shirley's is a story that's not just for the competitive swimming community.  It's a story y'all should share with your "non-swimming" friends.

Yes, even those divers and water polo players!

Tell them it includes Shirley's account of a creepy one-on-one meeting with OJ Simpson, if that's what it takes to get them interested.

You won't be lyin'!





*We know her now as Austin's Sandy Neilson-Bell.  She and husband Dr. Keith Bell put on numerous open water events and raise big bucks for local causes.

**Yes, the same Jill Sterkel who swam and coached at UT and is still with the Longhorn athletic department.

***Sold Out!

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