Swimming Legend Jeff Farrell Rescued by Son in California Mudslide; Needs Support

Jeff Farrell then and now. Photo Courtesy: ISHOF archives

Hall of Fame swimming legend Jeff Farrell was rescued by son from mudslide in Montecito, California, according to an ABC News report.

Farrell’s son Marco Farrell ran into his dad’s house shouting to his mom, Gabrielle Farrell, to “Close the door and wake dad up.”
The family stood in thigh high mud as boulders and trees passed down the hill in front of their house.

“The scariest thing was the sound,” Farrell later told ABC News. “It sounded like the scariest monster you ever heard, banging on your door.”

Video of the mudslide from Farrell.

Please help Jeff and his family rebuild and restore their family home by donating at https://www.gofundme.com/farrellfamilymontecito.

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Farrell was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968 as an honor swimmer, and the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2011. He is the only swimmer to be inducted in both recognition categories.
Farrell set a world record 67 years ago, then broke an 80-84 age group record just a couple of months ago.

Back in 1960, Farrell was favored to win three Olympic gold medals in Rome.  But six days before the start of the Olympic Swimming Trials, Jeff  was stricken with appendicitis. The recovery time after an operation of this type was typically six weeks in those days. Jeff tells about his bad luck and amazing recovery in his autobiography, My Olympic Story. A terrific read, it is not just Jeff’s story but the story of an era that laid the foundation for American swimming today.

After serving in the Navy and living abroad for many years, Farrell returned to swimming via USA Masters in 1980 and has held the fastest national times in his age group in dozens of events over past decades. Twenty years ago, swimming in the 60-64 he set an American record in the 50y, (SC) in the time of 23.28 seconds, which was only .68 of a second slower than his world class 22.50 in 1960.  In 2010 world-renown photographer Peter Hapak shot Jeff for ESPN’s “The Body” issue.

2 Comments

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Lane Four

    WOW! Jeff has more than nine lives. I hope he continues to thrive and show his natural gift in the water. He is a national treasure.

  2. avatar
    Skip Thompson

    I am hoping for the best for Jeff. I have read both his books and he has been an inspiration to all swimmers for almost 60 years. One small correction is that he was the first swimmer to be inducted in both recognition categories and the only one until this year. Yoshi Oyakawa this past year was inducted into International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame to go along with be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1973 as an honor swimmer.

Author: Daniel D'Addona

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Dan D'Addona is the lead college swim writer for Swimming World. He has covered swimming at all levels since 2003, including the NCAA championships, USA nationals, Duel in the Pool and Olympic trials. He is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a graduate of Central Michigan University. He currently lives in Holland, Michigan, where he also is the Sports Editor at The Holland Sentinel.

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