John Naber and Gary Hall
DescriptionJohn Naber (63) speaks with his friend Gary W. Hall Sr. (68) about their shared experiences as Olympic swimmers while telling stories of races they've won or lost, and paint a picture of the Olympics in 1968, 1972, and 1976.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Gary Hall
Recording LocationThe Broadmoor
Venue / Recording Kit
Partnership TypeFee for Service
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00:06 My name is Gary Hall senior. I'm 68 years old today's date is Friday, November 1st 2019. We are in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor Hotel. I am interviewing with John naber who is a friend and a teammate from the 1976 Olympics. And also we serve together in the unit in the United States Olympians and paralympians Association.
00:35 I I am Gary Hall. I competed in three Olympic Games in 1968 and 1972 and 1976. And I want to meddle in each of those Olympic games. That was a silver medalist in 1968 in the 400-meter individual medley. I want a silver medal in 1972 in the 200-meter butterfly and a bronze medal in the 1976 Olympics. I was also honored in the 1976 Olympics by being selected by my teammates to carry the US flag in the opening ceremonies.
01:11 I'm John naber, I'm currently 63 years old. Today's date Friday November one 2019 here at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I'm interviewing Gary Hall who is both an Olympic teammate and a personal role model of mine and we have had many occasions to interact ever since I am a competitive was a competitive swimmer at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. I won for Golden 1 silver medal my gold medal events with a hundred and 200-meter backstroke the 400 medley relay and the 4 by 200 freestyle relay in a silver medalist in the 200-meter freestyle.
01:54 And because you're my role model I get to ask the first question Gary you were selected to be the flag bearer because you were one of the few swimmers who was able to compete on multiple teams and when metals on multiple teams, that's the story is I heard it when you
02:14 Started competing in 68 and again in 72. What did you think about the American flag bearer in those games? Were you aware of how significant that honor was?
02:26 That's a great question. You know what that time? Of course, I had no really chance of being named Flag there. I was just part of the team are there was a co-captain and 72 but it was really I think looked upon as it is today is a great great honor and and something that particular was special because of the way it's done and I think that's important is not the coaches is not the administrators is not the usoc or Uso PC as it's called today the decides it's your teammates. It's it's your peers and if I could be clear it's not the swim team that shows you it's the captains of every Olympic sport team. So the basketball Captain the gymnastics Captain the wrestling Captain's they met and selected you over there any others athlete in any other sport? That's correct. And I will say this that there are as you can imagine everyone who is brought forth as a nominee for that honor.
03:26 Deserves that they they are all great athletes you not only have to have some in something unique and qualification for that honor, but you also have to be kind of in the right place at the right time and I always say it's better to be lucky than good in that end in 1976. I was lucky to be kind of in the right place at the right time for that honor to be bestowed upon me but most people don't realize it's also a potential sacrifice because you got to be on your feet for 4 or 5 hours waiting for the Parade of Nations holding the flag. And you got a swimming this the first week of the Olympics. Your race is a few days away.
04:06 That is true and in freshly not just the flag there but for anyone who marches in the opening ceremony, and I don't know if it's the same day that I don't you recall we March for probably close to a mile before we even got to the stadium and then you March through the stadium which is an amazing experience. But and then you're on your feet for another couple hours during all that time and swimming is has been as long as I can remember one of the sports that starts immediately. So the day after the opening ceremony we have our first day of swimming competition in track and field is usually the second week so they have a little time to recover but when you're on your feet for that long and you're not used to standing as we're not we're more horizontal in our work, you think it cost you I don't think so usual what a silver or gold that year because of the person I didn't swim my event in Montreal this second.
05:06 1st day you wasn't it first day of have time to recover. I had time to recover the Munich I chose to March.
05:15 And I swam the very first day and I did that because I didn't want to miss out, you know, which is like going to battle you want to be part of the battle and I felt really strongly that. I want to hear we had the choice we didn't have to go there should know you guys can stay rest watch on TV infect coaches and courage just not to go. I'll go to record that year. You got a silver behind Spitz. Did he March in Opening Ceremonies in Munich?
05:40 How you know, I don't remember if you did. I don't think he did but I could be wrong on that. I have to look back and see but I think he had a big schedule. I had a pretty big one myself, but I wasn't going to give up that honor to go in there and I marched in and 68 as well pack. The guy in front of me. It was a swimmer. It was a it was a kind of a Superstition back in those days when they love let the doves of Peace go which they don't do anymore because they found it was inhumane to keep them penned out for two or three weeks. They would be flying around after weeks of being kind of inevitably somebody would get dumped on us and I was right in front of me had this big thing. I could never mention that supposed to mean good luck when that happens, but I don't know if you really believe it or not.
06:36 Do I heard it? As many of the dubs have ribbons tied to their feet and of course those ribbons gets patapon inside the cage and sell the moment. They released the birds. It's like days worth of accumulated poop coming out for this guy. But anyway, yes, it's it's all in the little nuances of of the summer.
07:01 Gary Busey band marching with the flag. It was an incredibly strange When you entered the stadium, can you just very quickly and just describe it?
07:14 Yeah, I remember that day of marching into Montreal stadium in Olympic Stadium like it was yesterday because it was
07:22 It was such an incredible honor trip supposed to be leading 6 or 600 plus of the greatest athletes in the world to be a given that honor and as we March towards the stadium, you know, there was a small scattering of people that would stand on each side of the road as we get in and out thicker and thicker by the time we reach the stadium there maybe ten people deep on your side like you're walking down a parade in Pasadena with you and John naber always announces every year than Rose Bowl Parade, but then you went down into the deep dark tunnel where you the almost couldn't see anything. It was very much light and then as you came down the tunnel, you would see the light at the end of the tunnel literally knowing that on the other side of that there was going to be some kind of reception at Montreal Canada.
08:16 Pretty friendly to the United States and they they love us and they loved us then a lot of American citizens could reach Montreal to be in the stands as well. They were a lot of Americans in that stands and as we came down and we were toward the end and I were in the United States being toward the end. I don't remember exactly where we were in the in the lineup but the flag came out first because I'm holding it and it's pretty tall and as it comes out in the stars and stripes, you know, come become a parent this Roar and was deafening came and everybody got to their feet and it was just like this my whole body just started to tremble and I was so afraid I was going to I was going to drop the flag. I mean, I was literally trembling holding on to this thing and I remember the Russian who's got the Army and I'll shoot arm out there. He's holding a straight out and my little skinny arms would have made that look really really dumb. So I just held it in the traditional way, but I I walk
09:16 Through and and you just look up.
09:20 It is just it's it's overwhelming the sound of the the the reception the warm what I didn't know and I walk through and this is a little Side Story is in my wife it somehow finagled a ticket in the front row and she held my two-year-old son Gary Jr. In her arms and Gary had a a little American flag and he's waving the flag and he's yelling Daddy Daddy Daddy and I can't hear him. I mean, I'm just like I'm hoping I don't drop the flag and keep trying to keep in step with the music which was hard enough as it was in back in those days. We actually tried to pray we actually try to keep in step. So I'm walking in and I don't even see Gary but he's right to my right and one of the photographers who was there.
10:08 In a turnaround is somehow made the connection.
10:12 An eternity takes a picture of Mary my wife holding your genie with American flag.
10:19 And all this happen without my knowing it and of course if a car goes over to Mary sister, is that your dad out there trying to find my daddy and the next day on the front page on the Montreal star. There's not a picture of me carrying a flag. There's a picture of Gary Jr. And Mary and he's holding the flag of Isis flag bearer sign cheers his father on in the opening ceremony. It was a touching picture. I still have that picture at home and I should note that Gary Jr. Went on to win 10 Olympic medals and is in the Olympic Hall of Fame and you also carried him around the pool when you won your bronze medal in Montreal idea in and had no idea that time how much better he was going to be then his dad but he he went on in spite of all the pressure of having a father in the Olympics surpass Me by far you think you would have been a swimmer had you not been a swimmer.
11:17 You know, I don't think so. I think that he, you know to be honest with you and that's a question. A lot of parents asked me especially being you know, an Olympian you have children and you want them to compete in the same sport you did in there and I Wrestled a lot with that we had six children three boys for girls and that we all decided at the end and then I decided that you know, we love the sport. It was might her father was not Olympian put on and Collegiate Champion. You would have been an Olympian have those Olympic stop and cancel if it hadn't been for the war. He would have been in in the Olympics and he was that good. So it was almost like a tradition, you know to carry on to do this and Gary reluctantly in order to support court in which I believe John is the same age you started sending texts with a year later who I started a 13th at 13, which is very very late. Very late. And I know you know, there are
12:17 Handful of people that have made the Olympic team starting out late, but not many.
12:21 But he we had to push him all the way. I know eventually he started doing well and he loved it and will let Gary talk for himself and in the future you should cuz he may have one day I learn about my children their perspective of what happened in my perspective a totally different so that we did push him and I admit to that and we sort of given you will swim approach are you you were seeing Decades of Olympic history as an athlete in the 60s as a competitor in the seventies as the parent of an Olympian in the end the double zeros and then late 1990s how the game's grown changed improved or not.
13:05 Well, it's a that's a really really long and challenging question because it hasn't it continues to evolve and change but I would say the single most dramatic change occurred in 1972 in one night when Israelis were literally slaughtered by The Palace Tinley Palestinian terrorist.
13:26 And none of us saw that coming. None of us expected that we all thought at that time. That was the end of the Olympic Games thankfully wasn't the only games are are stronger and more powerful than a single group or political group and we'll we'll persevere. I think how was I to know what I think I'm hearing you say is not that it was a it was a revelation of security issues, but rather than the political significance of the Olympics as the world stage, but that was also the case in 68 with Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists. It wasn't just 68 and it wasn't just 72 and even if you go back in history John and you look at almost every Olympic games from the beginning there was some political Steven or platform. It was being utilized or trying to take advantage of the Olympic Games and I was I was brought to my attention by a guy named Buck Dawson who used to run
14:26 International Swimming Hall of Fame and I thought got us this all started in 68 with you know, the social revolution of it at that time and Tommy's when they didn't it went back way for the it was the biggest and loudest Flash and and Steven made in 72, but it transfigured the Olympics in transforming with ease into one of very low security Trust of being very open and free into a very secure Private Eyes by necessity and it became very difficult. I couldn't even see my own son in the Olympic Games by the time he competed because he was behind the Olympic Village. I had no chance of getting in there. My parents could walk in to the Olympic Village Inn in Mexico City.
15:16 If they had a pair of Adidas on they thought they were a coach and athlete and it would didn't even ask for credentials and none of us had keys to the doors are all open people walk Domingos and you didn't answer whatever door mirror or whatever building you were in whatever country you are. You are welcome and then putting words in your mouth by saying that you think it was friendlier in the early days. It's less less open less social more.
15:47 Commercial now I will read it was certainly more open and and and we felt I guess more secure because we know never dreamed of you know, the thing that happened in Munich could ever really happened. I don't think anybody predicted that was going to happen. And then there was the bomb in the 1996 in Atlanta and I'm in Atlanta and other example, so, you know, it's in a situation now where it has to take we live in a different world and then we did and then have to take the precaution but aside from that I think it's a very different Olympic Games and it was then in respect of a little bit more commercial. It's a little bit more professional. You know, when those days Avery Brundage almost single-handedly kept everyone so-called amateur. We were we were just poor professional but he really held back the evolution of professionalism the sport for decades.
16:44 I'm reluctant to ask you the next question because I love to talk about you. But you were also a teammate of Mark Spitz on two different teams. And he was one of the greatest names in the sport. Do you have any recollection make Sims what made him so good and an n and the change in him between Mexico City and Munich?
17:04 Well, I do or totally different situations. First of all, Mark Spitz like you John was one of the most gifted athletes of all time and and he was of his day of his ear perhaps not even perhaps he was clearly the most talented Athlete on the planet and those days Marketa was also interesting because he had a predilection and and our coach at the time in Indiana University. Council is very aware of this of being very vulnerable psychologically. He could easily be psyched out. So I doubt he could easily be talked into not doing well and so we have to be protected in a way but he wasn't really being protected and 68th. And unfortunately for him there was a lot of condescension on that team a lot of people trying to get in his head they succeeded and he peed really stumbled and fell and hit in Eden Prairie.
18:04 How tall do you think it was anti-Semitism or merely they use that to try to get in his head now? I don't think he was vulnerable and they were direct competitors then they did what they were needed to do to try to win him and frankly. It worked for that. You also staying with him and Indiana University where the Hoosiers won six consecutive nc-218 titles as a teammate. How was he?
18:35 He's good. He was good. He was I wouldn't she was the most liked guy in the team. But you know, everybody got along with him doc was very instrumental in protecting him in that way and I didn't allow people to tease them, you know every or be mean or are or try to get into his head. He was really careful about making sure that we were all together and we work together but doc was kind of amazing as one story. I love to tell the story because it tells about how vulnerable Mark Spitz was but a 19-7 our chief rival was your school. Remember USC win? Any Indiana was like, Alabama and Georgia on the football team. There was no love between those two. So 1971 was year before the Munich Olympics. I take it back. It was it was the year before and it was the NC 2A charger.
19:35 Ames Iowa and Iowa State and on the way to the to the me Doc sat next to Mark and I always kind of, you know kept market close today and he would keep him, you know under his wings so to speak and they'd always talk on the way in and Mark said he opened his shirt and he still has a dock and I've got this rash on my test. I don't know what it is. You should have just came up yesterday. And I said no it Mark. Don't worry about that. You probably allergic to them. Did you change laundry detergent looks like an allergy done that I don't even worry about it. And so he didn't and we went to the meat and Mark didn't have his best meat ever that you're the only one two out of three events and was second the other end and I hate to rub this and we do t u r c by 19 points and it was very close and went down to the last relay. So on the way home, we're all celebrating.
20:32 And Mark is in Denmark and I roomed together and during that mean I was kind of given the test to make sure Mark stays on track which I did and we're on our way home and we're celebrating and marcusson next to dog and I'll send Mark opens a sure nice is this rash has gotten worse.
20:54 And dark looks Downey said Omar. Khayyam you know what? I made a mistake. That's not a rush. You have measles
21:00 And was that Mark is laying on the plane riding a plane. We actually had to call 911 when we landed he get him to the emergency room because doc knew he had measles going into that meet but he said if I told Mark he had measles and we would have lost me. So he swam that me with measles and still ended up winning couple of events and Doc was a genius for not he knew exactly how to handle it. But I always laugh when I think about how you know, you didn't have to say boo to Mark and he would have thought something was wrong and I believe the currently the US Olympic and paralympic committee has Coach of the Year award is called the James E. Councilman Coach of the Year award and Doc was your coach at Indiana. He was our Olympic coach in Montreal was he different is an Olympic coach this he was as a college coach.
21:56 Not really, but I think he did his best coaching when in 1976 of in his heart entire career even including all of her collegiate teams. And then one of the reasons was as you will know a lot of that team was made up of Summer's of USC and Indiana and you know, if you take a good chunk of your team from two rival schools, that could be the potential for a real disaster and yet and I attribute a lot of this to your teammates, do you pronounce who was our co-captain review time with me, but we made everybody send home their college or Club shirts and everybody wore Team USA shirts and from the beginning. Made it clear and he didn't just coach as a head coach. He brought in the other two coaches who could have been head coach Dawn Gambrell you or change two of the greatest swimming coach of all time. You said? No, we're all three equals here.
22:52 Remember how we did it we divided that team up into three groups picture Coach training whatever you want to but we're all three equals and and I thought it was a brilliant strategy to get us ready for those Olympic Games and he shared with our first team meeting that night after the trials his goal for us as a team and it forced the backstrokers to start cheering for the butterfly and the forces the Spinners to root for the distance man, because he said I believe this team can win more can win every swimming event in men's events in Montreal. I think this team can win more medals than the rest of the world combined and I think this team can win more Olympic medals than the other sports on the US Squad as well. And in 13 race has the American men were unable to win one gold one silver in 6 brought.
23:41 Are they change the rules after those games?
23:44 That's right then and I don't know if you remember but Sports Illustrated always predicted. You know, how many what who what countries would win who would win the metals and they always come out with it because they had the United States winning about half the only metals and they were 35 medals are given out nose Olympics and they had United States winning about 16 or 17 of the metals in the predictions and we ended up winning 27 out of 35. We left 8 medals for the entire rest of the world and because of that John is right in the next Olympics. They voted to only allowed two athletes to compete in swimming for guard country and you cuz I got tired of seeing the red white and blue stars and stripes.
24:30 Three times and then in so many events. Well not only did the American men sweep the podium the East German women's sweat the podium and as a senior member of our team, but were you suspicious at the time were you convinced that there were problems in 1974. There was a between East Germany and the United States. That's the first time you be the Invincible giant you slay the Giant in the 200 backstroke by by defeating rolling office wouldn't do anything defeated in either the hundred or the tuner in 9 year are 8 years something incredibly. No one thought he could be beaten until you beat him in those in that do me, but you're not doing me everyone saw for the first time these German women up close and personal and when you walk by them with their bathing suits on
25:26 And then you heard their voices. It wasn't any doubt. There was no suspicion. That was the first time I'd seen it did actually done it in in Belgrade. I think the year before and 73 that's when they just annihilate it over and it came from nowhere and 72. I don't think they won Olympic gold medal in 72 and 73. They want everything not just by a little bit. They crushed the women women doing that. They weren't doing with the men. Why were these German men? Not Supermen in Montreal because testosterone has a lot more effect on women that it doesn't meant. So when you inject these prepubescent women at 12 or 13 years old, which was tragic and many of those women as you know, and I know if you saw the movie the documentary on that and I think it's the last gold well, but there was also another documentary that was out to that would be really described in more detail. I mean they were just
26:26 Being victimized and I don't know why they didn't know what was going on. And I told to have these vitamins or go home. Tell him you will have this. Are you going home and not going to train with us? You're not going to Olympics which was in it. And even they didn't have a clue. They were told they were vitamins whatever. They didn't have a clue. They were actually going to harm harm them a lot of Mickey Mouse sterile some of develop cancer if you went on not assuming that I think some converted to men because they were more masculine Eyes by it. So why didn't have the same effect on the men because men produce more testosterone and then so when given the anabolic steroids that has a much more dramatic and basically masculinized the living and tragically that was never really recognized 8 in of people just
27:23 Ignored it. They didn't refuse to believe it and then it was bleeding and was obvious. Can you handle a hypothetical question? I'll try how would your life be different and how would your son Gary's life be different had neither of you competed in the Olympics?
27:41 You know you. I think you have to go back and relive your life to know the answer to that question is how did the Olympics affect you change you make you?
27:51 Well, you know for us and I don't know what are the differences today is it a fleet's in swimming is as I can count on one finger. The number of Summer's who can retire in the amount of money that made one and you know who that is, but you know for the rest of us.
28:11 In a week in our day in my day been any and it really in yours to you couldn't make a living swimming. So swimming was just something we did when we had the opportunity to two before our next stop for a next in a career or our career. Whatever might be what does it also teach you a work ethic and a goal-setting skills and teamwork and absolutely or not but I don't think the Olympics needed in making only team didn't do that swimming.
28:45 The and I love the Olympic Games. I always will but
28:49 When you look at all and you interview people that you know came close to making the Olympics or didn't even have a chance maybe made it to the Olympic trials or even did not make it that far. Are they all look back and he said, you know what I really got something out of this 40 really taught me something. I don't know that you gain more by being in the Olympics. Maybe you do but I don't I don't think it was an amazing experience to be part of that.
29:14 But if I had met the Olympics without of changed me, I don't know. I don't think so, maybe
29:21 I would have been hungrier than I was but it was pretty hungry because I didn't win unlike you I wanted to win the Olympics and I didn't and for years that really bothered me that I didn't win and I had a great opportunity in Munich to win and had a terrible swim on a day because of my own fault and really the way I
29:42 And I'm basically psych myself out on that day. Don't worry about that. I never heard that story when I was I was favored to win the Florida and was the day after the 200 fly. I just want my lifetime this time silver metal 200 fly did the time I had hoped to do Spitz was better.
30:02 He won I was pretty happy to be second. I never really relinquish the race, but I knew that you know, he was a better sooner than I was and I would be and I and I kept my focus really. Well, I wake up the next morning.
30:17 And I said, oh my gosh today is my event. My event was a foreign I am I hadn't lost in 4 years. Were you the world record holder at the time? I was the world record holder. I never been beaten and
30:30 I was you know at that time pretty far ahead is the next best tour in that event.
30:37 And I know the trials in that year. I think I second place was four five seconds behind me.
30:44 I set the world record in trials and I went to the Olympic Games kind of knowing that that was going to be event that I would be able to win.
30:55 I woke up that day not feeling really well. I didn't sleep. Well at night maybe was the excitement of the 200 fly and he was just the adrenaline rush of having been there. But I remember waking up soon and I didn't sleep and I and I tossed and turned and went over the prelims and generally in the prelims. I didn't have to go all out to get into the finals, but I went to the prelims.
31:19 And I swim in the morning. I felt bad. I really felt like I just didn't have much strength, which was really not at all the way I normally fill in the prelims. So I remember getting to the wall and I hit the wall and this guy that I could routinely be touch me out. We're both in the finals wasn't problem. I got it. I wasn't first but I was in up there if I just went home and I just got collected and and could relax and and and become myself I would have been able I would have been okay, but I didn't remember touching the wall at night the first thought I had my mind I said, oh my God, I'm going to lose.
32:02 Which is the absolute worst thing you can ever say or think as an athlete.
32:08 And from that point on my heart rate went up I couldn't relax. I would not to the room my girlfriend at the time was now my wife Mary came into the village. Just remember this is all before the Israeli attack. So the village was easy, then she came in. She said she walked into the room and I was running with Mark Spitz. She saw me in the bed. I was like white and she said, oh my God here you got to eat if you eat and I said, I can't eat so you got to eat I said, I can't even think about should I get nausea? So I'm going to go get some food. I'm going to bring it back. She goes to the diamond brings back all this incredible food no food. There was amazing.
32:46 I looked at it I said and I went to the bathroom. I almost vomited and I said merry I know I have to eat but I can't she check my part right in my heart. We was resting was a hundred and ten hundred twenty.
33:00 And she's on my God, and she said I'm going to go get Doc and Doc came in and he looked at me security.
33:07 You got a relaxed man. You got to do either to sleep. You got to you know, you got to
33:14 Not do this to yourself and everybody knew I was just self-destructing. It wasn't a virus or a me and it's just me.
33:25 And I said I couldn't eat and in the finals world around and I had to go to the pool and I remember grabbing and I hadn't eaten all day and I said I got a grip. I have to have some kind of energy. So I grabbed a handful of dextrose tablets. They had these sugar talents. We just try the worst thing I could have done and I got this huge Spike of sugar and I went and I warmed up and then I remember feeling really out of it. Like I was hypoglycemic and I probably was but I got up on the Block and I just remember smiling. I said, you know what I'm just going to do that the best I can I went out scared running like a rabbit didn't didn't control the race and a 200m. I made that turn I'm ever come off the wall.
34:09 Electrolyzed, how was just debunked? I mean you don't even if you don't log in swingers, is there not long enough, but when you have no glycogen to begin with I was done and I just remember watching to McKee pass me in thinking, you know, all I can do is just try to finish and hold my head up high cuz there was nothing left in the tank. And of course it went in to become one of the most famous and controversial races of all time, cuz Timothy the United States tide rudar Larson from Sweden to the hundredth of a second and they were to 1000% and park and they awarded the winner from Sweden the gold and Tim the silver and they shouldn't have because even they recognized that the timing with equipment wasn't that cater accurate and it should have been in bed since changed the rule and Gary tied for gold your son tied for gold in the in the spring freestyling in Sydney.
35:08 Yes, I am. I often see when people tell me that swimming is not a sport of details that my son Gary Jr. Won two Olympic gold medals by the sum total of 1/100 of the second he tied for the goal of the team and Anthony Ervin in 2000. And then four years later Gary comes back and wins the gold medal by defeating his teammate at that time. Do it true Ghana from Croatia by 1/100 of a second 16 years later. Anthony comes back and wins a gold medal in the 50 by defeating the Frenchman Florent manaudou by how much one one hundredth of a second for this is it what was the race of Michael Phelps and the other butterfly were famous for this happens. All the time in swimming has finished Felson and my cabbage in in Beijing.
36:02 Or Phelps won that 8th gold medal in the hunter fly. And I did look like he had any chance to win that race, but he finished hard and 1/100 of a second. That's all it's amazing. How often it happens and swing a races are won or lost by nine.
36:18 John you had an amazing fear. You can ask me all the questions I have to ask you something.
36:25 What's been the impact of the Olympic Games on your life? Probably more so than in mine, but what how has it affected your life? I don't know if this is true for you, but it was certainly true for me. I wanted to be an Olympian before I wanted to be a swimmer.
36:40 When I was 10, I visited Olympia Greece and I heard about the Olympic Games in the thought of honoring the gods by doing the best you can and then model of Citius Altius fortius swifter higher stronger not swiftest highest strongest that the goal of the Olympics is to encourage everybody to improve rather than just give all the glory to the winner that may not be how it works out in reality, but the but the
37:05 The mission of the Olympic movement touched me in my heart and it gave me a real sense of purpose. So it changed my life. I was not a gifted athlete at all raised in Europe. I played soccer and Cricket first day of High School PE. I was the first kid pick for the basketball team because I'm so tall on the second day of p i was the last kid picked for the basketball team. And if you know what it feels like to be the last kid picked that's what I felt like until I discovered swimming and swimming was a Was a Race not against the swimmer in the lane next to me, but it was a race against the clock and now I'm I'm really trying to compare myself with what I did yesterday and I very quickly learn to trust in the process by do the work my times will improve and five times improve long enough and often enough eventually, I'll do well and that's the way I saw it and it changed to changed my view of myself. It gave me a started raising my hands and English class. I started sitting in the front of the class and algebra it gay.
38:05 Me a sense of personal worth an impossibility. So in my opinion of swimming in the Olympics been kept me going and you have the opportunity to represent your country. I say there's only three ways you get to wear the American flag on your uniform you either a soldier an astronaut or an Olympian and to me that was one of the great honors was too it was to walk in with a red white and blue on my chest. Unlike you I did not March in the opening ceremony. I swam the day after and so I watch from the stands and I regret it to this day. I wish I would have been a part of that team coming through the tunnel. I had a second chance in in Los Angeles in 1984. As I was asked to carry be one of the eight Olympians to carry the Olympic flag and we followed the team America through the tunnel and coming out of that tunnel. You feel a part of all that's good and right in the world the finest athletes from every
39:05 Every sport that communal camaraderie. That was a spirit that I that I will remember till the day I die.
39:18 I have one other question that this was an interesting and I remember you talking about this it one time job it when you qualified first in the hundred backs for the 1976 Olympic you write think about a second-and-a-half slower than the world record and roll in my office and I may be wrong on that. It wasn't very close, right? He was so far ahead of you and we're talking about hundreds of seconds winning or losing it was like night and day difference time wise and yet between in 5 weeks.
39:50 You went to the zombie games and you not only won the gold medal in the 200 where you now become favored. I believe her at least Co favored to win it with him. He was still pretty tough to beat in that event. But you beat him in his own game in the hundred backstroke and you not only improved but you dropped like two seconds in 5 weeks or if the trials to Leading off the relay in a believe in 55 for which was the world record of that time still a pretty respectable time even today. How did that happen? How do you say go in 5 weeks and drop two seconds and beat slay the giant. How did you do that? You know, I don't recall those statistics. I do recall that I was the world record holder in the 200 at the trial's I broke mathis's World Records there in 4 Weeks Later the Olympics, but I do
40:42 Don't ever ask me that question and I'm trying to come up with the answer and I think the main answer was I was a distance freestyler and a backstroker. I was an American record holder in the mile to 1650. I swam at the trials in the 400-meter freestyle. Remember that Race part where 6 people flip even at the 350 and I did not make the team in the 400 and that's the first time I was no longer a distance swimmer and I never had to train for anything longer than 2 200 for the rest of the season and for those four weeks I could focus on nothing but Sprint and I think that might be a reason why my time and proved but you remember that statistic. I'd like to tell you the story. I remember in the backstroke swimmers hold the starting block with their hands as a result. It's almost impossible to fall start in the backstroke in the Olympic gold medal championship.
41:42 Roland Mathis in the lane next to me. It's twice.
41:49 In the backstroke. I have never seen the Fall start at all. And I remember in Montreal that used to French to say take your marks. It was in French language, but we were told to listen for it. And I remember everybody pulled up to the starting blocks and I saw Mathis move and then I heard the gun and I assume the official also saw Mathis move first. So I assume he's going to call us back. So I didn't let go of the starting blocks and seven swimmers splashed into the water and I'm holding on to the blocks and what now appears to me at the time of year to Mia.
42:26 An eternity later, but it was probably a second II gun fires the recall you called everybody back. I don't know whether it was because he saw that I didn't move and he felt okay might as well call them back or I don't know what it was but the point being is now I realize son of a gun. He not called back the field. I would have been the biggest joke at the Olympic Games. So now everybody gets back and Mathis has a smile on his face. He done it intentionally. He was trying to catch the gun and it's not time.
42:56 They allowed to fall starts to be charged to the field ran the third one would cause a disqualification. I'd never seen one backstroke fall start. Now. We pull up take your marks Mathis moves again. He anticipates the gun and he moves and then the gun fires this time I go with the field and bang comes the second gun, and now we're all recalled to the blocks. Now. Everybody is stuck their feet glued to the wall because anybody jumps the third Gunther disqualified. I don't know if you even remember this because they did not show either of the Fall starts on live TV because the Olympics for tape-delayed right that's in so everybody at home The Producers didn't bother to show any fall starts. But to me that was the most significant thing that I've ever seen at the Olympics and it happened in my race.
43:44 So when the third one I was getting ready for it when the third gun went off. This is my first Olympic gold medal Race by first championship final and I was mad but I was also impressed that hear the old man rolling. Mathis was awhile EKG old guy and he wasn't about to give up any possibility. He was using his experience against my enthusiasm and luckily for me because of that first Double-Double gun. I had a chance to race him and I swam the first 50 meters of that mad and then coming off the wall because of my endurance I wasn't able to lose much math is finished. Third Peter Rock up in a second. I may be wrong, but I remember you telling me it's some point and we've been friends a long time. Does your perspective on that hundred was it you didn't have to improve a second-and-a-half to win that race which would seem like an insurmountable amount of improvement to make in a month. All you had to improve was a couple hundreds of a second.
44:44 Everyday and you could do that in practice while the statistics I didn't think about it the last month in 1972 when you're swimming in Munich rolling. Mathis wins the gold medal with 56 1/2 seconds + 159.5 and I said to myself how fast will he be in Montreal? 55 1/2 was what I assumed and I could take that for second chunk the second two-year a tenth of a second a month a 300 of a second add a 12000 of a second for every hour of training and that's the way I looked at it every day. You just got to keep going and my Olympic time was 55.49. You just didn't know a second-and-a-half. It was going to come in the last month.
45:28 Last bit up in any what advice did you give Gary Jr. As as a man? Who'd been there before and what advice have you received in your swimming career in the in a sentence or a jingle or a quote that you remember today?
45:45 You know, that's a great question is question again. I lost a lot and I will tell you that I give every parent of of a swimmer not just rumors of any athlete who aspires to try to be something really special is just tell your child one thing and this is all I told you I never gave me advice on how to swim as races didn't get mad at him if he didn't show him well and it and I presume when you swim well, but I always told him to have fun.
46:13 And if you just have fun, it's it's it's tough sport. They're all tough. But they're meant to be fun and Sun level and then if you're not having fun, then you got to really wonder why am I doing this? And I just think that you can work hard you can set goals. You can go out and you win some you lose some you have set back for the young you have to say, you know what I really had fun doing this and I think Gary did he eat took my words to heart. He was having fun. He was stringing up guitars on the starting blocks know that's because he predicted he was going to win and they strung the air guitar. He said they were going to smash the Aziz light guitars, but unfortunately that didn't work out to his benefit but he came back he had the last laugh cuz he won the Olympic gold strain the same Olympics, but now it's a I think that just, you know, enjoy it you enjoyed it you were I I look at the videos of you and 76 you are having fun there.
47:13 Of course you're swimming great. But which comes first the swimming greater than having fun? It's a smile that comes first and I to be honest with you in my opinion Olympic Champions. Now, they raised their fists in Agra we were going to swimmers have sponsors to to satisfy have agents and managers that there are there are there a business Enterprise and if they take the day off there's a lot of people whose whose attitude might might be affected by we just did it for the fun of it. It's right. It wasn't it wasn't a profession for us. It was a long thin and you know, the word amateur comes from the word amateur shall we were poor professional since I thought I was an amateur because I loved it doing it.
48:07 Yeah, that's that's right. The attitude The Flash we didn't have an option b it was was there because we didn't have the opportunity to make and I'm happy they do today. I wish they continue with that I can tell you it was a fun time. This has been thanks for being with me and let me be with you today. Thank you. It's always an honor and a pleasure and fun to reminisce with you.