Thursday, 12 December 2013

Musgrave Park Pool - near miss

Musgrave Park Pool 1968

I was doing my Wednesday morning laps at the local pool yesterday and intercepted a conversation taking place between two young women swimming in the lanes on either side of me.

One was the  daughter of Alan who has the lease on Musgrave Park Pool. Alan has been managing the pool for quite a few years. He swims every day and puts me to shame, both as a swimmer and in general fitness terms. Turns out Alan is 70. I would have guessed maybe early 60s. But I digress.

 "Was your father a top swimmer?" asked lane 1.
"Yeah, he was a state champion in his day" replied lane 3. "He should have gone to the '64 Olympics. He was dudded by the Australian selectors. He won the national breast-stroke championship but the selectors took the guy who came second and left dad behind." Do children embellish the memories of their fathers I wondered? Or maybe just make things up?

Alan swims well, but at 70 he's no lomger a contender. And come to think of it I don't think I've ever seen Alan doing breast-stroke.

As I left the pool I asked Alan about the story. "Yeah, it's true. I missed out on the Olympics. I came second in the national championships and the selectors took the first and third placegetters." "What was that about?" I asked him. "Dunno really. They thought he would be more likely to perform and be a medal chance than me apparently." I detected a hint of unresolved anger still lingering these 50 years later.

"You must have been a contemporary of Murray Rose?" I added. "Yeah. He was a strange bloke. Kept to himself and didn't really make himself part of the team. He was from a wealthy family, went to a private school." I had recently seen a documentary on Rose. He was a vegetarian, pretty unusual in 1963. Clearly an educated man. "He was very strict. He wouldn't even step inside a butcher's shop when we went shopping for supplies. It wasn't just about health. It was a philosophy."

Rose missed out on selection for the 1964 Olympics because he refused to return from the USA where he was in the middle of filming a B Grade surf movie - Ride the Wild Surf. He fancied himself as an actor. "He did some awful movies." observed Alan.

"The bloke who beat me went on to win the 200m event at the Olympics in world record time." Alan was making a subtle point about the quality of the competition. He had finished second behind the next World Record holder.

His name was Ian O'Brien.

1968 - Is that Alan as a 27year old?
Alan, Ian, Murray.

Only Murray became a household name - understandably so, as he won three gold medals at the Melbourne Olympics and again won Gold in 1960 in Rome. At one time he held the world records in the 400m, 800m, and 1500-metre freestyle.

Still, for me, Musgrave Park Pool, probably the most neglected pool in the city, has gained some gravitas.

1 comment:

Melba said...

Liked this, thanks Little Hat.