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View Full Version : Six Days to Swim - Jeff Farrell



Frank Thompson
January 6th, 2006, 03:10 PM
I just recently read about Jeff Farrell on swiminfo and how he is recovering from heart bypass surgery. www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/10518.asp Jeff is one of the greatest swimmers ever in swimming. You can read about him because there are a lot of stories about him on this website and he continues to swim in USMS. He is an Olympic Gold medal winner and is also inducted into the ISHOF.

Jeff became known for the story called "Six Days to Swim" and a book was published many years ago about what he had to do to overcome adversity to swim in the 1960 Olympics. Six days days before the Olympic Trials in Detroit he underwent an appendectomy. Officals offered for him to skip the trails altogether and have him participate in a swim off weeks after the trials to make the team because he was the number 1 ranked swimmer in the world at that time in the 100 Meter Free.

Jeff felt that this would be unfair to the swimmers who prepared and competed and earned the right to swim on that day for the 1960 Olympic team. He said no to all special requests and wanted to make the Olympic team based soley upon his post surgical performane at the trails just like everyone else. He swam with bandages taped around his waist.

He made it into the finals and got 3rd place. I believe Bruce Hunter and Lance Larson were the other swimmers that qualified for the 100 Meter Free. He also got 4th place in the 200 Meter Free and thus qualified for the 800 Fee Relay. So he could be eligible to swim all 3 relays at the Olympics and that is just what he did winning 3 Gold Medals.

What is very important in this is because of his unselfishness he set the standard for all swimmers that they must qualify to swim in the event just like everyone else and there are no special circumstances like what other countries do. Our Olympic team selection has honored what he has done ever since.

What is interesting in this is that the exact same cricumstances happened 4 years later with Steve Clark. Steve was the World Record holder and the fastest man in the World at the time of the Olympic Trials. He had shoulder tendonitis and did not qualify for the individual event but swam well enough to qualify for all three relays. He had to lead off the 400 Free Relay to earn his place on the Medley Relay. With his split time the coaches made the decision to use him instead of Don Schollander, the 100 Meter Champion at the 1964 Olympics. He won 3 Gold Medals just like Jeff Farell had and there was no talk at the Olympic Trials about not qualifing like everyone else. Steve also swim masters and is very successful just like Jeff. You can find stories about him on this website also.

My coach when I was younger named John Hussey was at those Olympic Trials and used to tell us the story about Jeff and how inspirational he was not only as a swimmer but a sportsman as well. I bought the book when it came out because I remember the story my coach told me and was an influential motivation for me as a young person. In 1989, I got to meet Jeff Farrell at the Nationals in Boca Raton and he signed my old copy of the book. He was generally gracious and extremely nice to sign the book and was happy to be an inspiration and influence to young swimmers.

I am glad Jeff is recovering and look forward to see him swim again. He is still an inspiration. Here is Jeff's website to see what he is up to today. www.jeff-farrell.com/

Its a slow show
January 6th, 2006, 05:19 PM
They don't make them any finer then Jeff Farrell. What a great gentleman and super swimmer. I have known him for years and wish him the very best in his recovery from heart surgery. Another friend of mind mentioned in the original post, Steve Clark,
did lead off the relay in Tokyo and went 52.8 Schollander won the regular 100 free in 53.4. You could'nt find two more humble guys then Farrell and Clark. They are the very best.

Frank Thompson
February 15th, 2006, 12:35 PM
Jeff Farrell is looking like the icon he is in swimming for the decision he made over 45 years ago. USA Swimming should be proud of the good precedent he set when he refused a special exemption to be on the Olympic team. Because of this, a tradition has been set and we will never see a bad precedent that has been set by the USA Figure Skating governing body on how they selected the Olympians and did not choose to follow the Olympic Trial results.

Phil Whitten has an interesting story about this on Swim Info in the premium section today. What interesting is that now that a bad precedent has been set, USA Figure Stating will have to live with this decision in the future because I am sure other cases like this will come up.

We all know what happened with Ian Thorpe in the 400 Free in 2004 trials. I know since Jeff Farrell did what he did, there has never been a special exemption or separate trials for anyone and lets hope that never happens in the selection of the USA Swimming Olympic team selection.

Its a slow show
February 15th, 2006, 03:32 PM
Frank, thanks for the very nice write-up on Jeff Farrell and Steve Clark. I know them both very well. I believe Steve led off the relay with a 52.8 where as Schollander won the 100 in 53.4. I knew and swam against Don alot and he also was and is a class act. I was at a meet in Portland years ago and Farrell, Clark and another great swimmer who's name is slipping my mind right now were just sitting there being the humble guys they are and I said to a young swim buddy of mine "did you know there are 10 Olympic gold medals sitting right there!". Super guys worth your fine recap. Thanks.