Tom Wilkens: A Modern-Day Harry Truman -- August 14, 2000
By Jim Lutz
Half a century ago, the rallying cry in America was, "America's calling Harry Truman." As we venture into the 21st century, the rallying cry for the U.S. Swimming team is, "America's calling Tom Wilkens."
Tom Wilkens has been a vital part of the U.S. Swimming effort for the past five to six years. His times are what get him noticed and recognized, but it is his character that endears him in the hearts of so many.
During the finals of the 200 breaststroke, Tom placed second behind Kyle Salyards in an exxciting four-man battle that came down to the touch, thus earning himself a provisional spot on the Olympic Team. A collective sigh of relief and a heartfelt enthusiasm rose from the capacity crowd. America's team just got
a needed cornerstone for the foundation of its dreamhouse.
With little more than one hour to rest and collect his thoughts, Tom stood back on the block and completed his semifinal heat of the 200 individual medley and earned another spot in the final heat on Monday night--thus proving that the depth of his character is second only to his drive and determination to help the U.S. team to victory in Sydney.
Seldom, in this world, sporting or secular, are we blessed with such a class act individual. Tom Wilkens is not only a great athlete, he is the standard by which others are measured. Where many are concerned with endorsements and serving their own needs, Tom Wilkens is a breath of fresh air that acts more like helium as he lifts everyone around him to higher levels.
America does, in fact, need Tom Wilkens. And guess what America? ...we have him.
Go get 'em Tom.