By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, July 20. Australian swim legend, Shane Gould, will be back in the water later this month at the site of her gretest triumph–the Olympic Swim Stadium in Munich, Germany. There she won five individual medals (three gold, one silver and one bronze) at the 1972 Munich Olympics as an inexperienced fifteen-year-old.
This time, however, she will be competing at the World Masters Swimming Championships in the women's 40-44 division, where the competition promises to be just as tough as it was 28 years ago.
Gould will be joining perhaps the greatest Olympic legend of all time, Mark Spitz, 50. At the 1972 Games, Spitz won seven gold medals, all in world record time–a feat that has never been equalled. Spitz, however, has told SWIM Magazine he will not be competing this time around, though he trains regularly with the UCLA Masters team.
At sixteen, Gould decided to retire after a career that
lasted only three years. In that short period she broke eleven world records and in 1992 held all freestyle world records from 100m to 1500m.
After twenty-five years out of the sporting limelight, the mother of four has made a comeback to the pool and will travel to Munich at the end of this month to compete in the World Masters Games.
Last month she swam a couple of feature time trials at the opening of the Ryde Aquatic Centre in Sydney, the venue for most of the Olympic water polo. Gould had done her summer training at the old pool on this site
(outdoors and unheated) in the early 1970's under her coach Forbes Carlile.
At the meet she swam the 200 meter (short course freestyle (short course) in 2.10.37, which bettered both the Australian and World Masters records for the 40-44 year age group. The world mark is 2:13.58,held by the USA's Suzanne Heim-Bowen. The time, however, may not be ratified as it was not swum at an official Masters event. Amazingly her time was just seven-tenths of a second outside the 2:09.7 she recorded in winning the Australian Open title in 1973!
The following day she somewhat reluctantly tackled the 400 meter freestyle short course) and completing the distance in 4.34.14, negative splitting her race with a back-half of 2.17.00. Her time just bettered Heim-Bowen's listed world mark of 4:3.83.
Gould was pleasantly surprised by her times as she felt she hadn't done enough training – about four sessions a week 12 to 16 km. Her old coach, Forbes Carlile encouraged her to do the swim and particularly to try the 400m. She was so encouraged by her performances she decided to contest the
forthcoming World Masters in Munich. medals.
Gould recently released her autobiography, "TumbleTurns," which reflected on
the difficulties she had integrating Shane Gould the swimmer with Shane Gould the person and how for many years she denied her success as a