PHOENIX, Ariz., August 22. BEFORE the half-way mark tragedy at the 1972 Munich Olympics, security did not create the high-tech fortresses at the Olympic sites now accepted as the norm.
Your Newsmaster recalled a treasure of an Olympic story lived by a college roommate at Indiana University, Bill Heiss, now an attorney in Wyoming. We contacted Bill to make sure the facts were straight and now share his response with SwimInfo's readers.
Bill was many times an All-American in the IMs and freestyle, including being the national leader in the 200 freestyle through most of one season. He was an Olympic Trials qualifier but, like most, didn't ever qualify for the team.
He was also of very similar dimensions as the 6' 5" John Murphy, a member of our college squad who did qualify for the US team and won relay gold (4 x 100 free) and individual bronze (100 back). Murphy had events coming up early in the swimming schedule and wanted to rest rather than march in the Opening Ceremonies — that can last longer than the Oscars!
And now, hoping the statute of limitations on pranks has expired — we understand multiple unauthorized visits into the Village were also part of his Olympic experience — we give you the words of Bill Heiss:
I did march for John Murphy.
I spent the whole day waiting with JK [John Kinsella] and a bunch of rowers so I wouldn't be seen by any of the swimming delegation. Then, as we're all lined up entering the stadium, the US contingent needed more people in the front rows so they kept calling for more of us from the back. In the end, I ended up right next to George Haines [US Hall of Fame coach]. I'm not sure he knew me, but I had on Murph's hat and Foster Grants for additional disguise.
Then as we are marching around the track, Santiago [Esteva; college teammate from Spain] was sitting in a box sea right on the outside edge of the track, and he jumped up and points at me shouting, "Bill Heiss! What are you doing in there?" I pretended his remarks weren't addressed to me. At the end of the day I met my family back at the apartment we had exchanged for our house in Colorado. My parents and sister had all managed to get in to the opening ceremonies without paying.
After proudly telling me of their exploits, I asked them if they had seen
me. They said, "Where were you?" I said "marching."
Can you imagine this kind of fun even a week later? No. It was before one of those events that change all of us, Black September in 1972 having every bit the impact on the sporting world as September 11, 2001 has had on America. Innocence lost for all of us.
(As a side note showing how the circle of life turns, Bill's daughter Kristin placed second in the 100 backstroke at the Sectional meet held in Austin this summer with her first ever National standard and went on to compete in the Stanford Nationals earlier this month!).