Swimming is the primary sport of Paul Tsongas
Paul Tsongas has a dirty little secret. It's nothing like the controversies that caused Bill Clinton to sink—and Tsongas to surface—before the Feb. 18 New Hampshire Democratic primary. But America might like to know that Tsongas's specialty is really the breaststroke.
That's right. Despite what you've seen in TV sight bites—i.e., the former senator from Massachusetts swimming a mighty butterfly in a pool—the breaststroke is what carried him to a letter at Dartmouth in 1962 and the stroke he swam as part of a national-record-setting 200-meter Masters coed medley relay team at a meet in Providence last December.
The trouble is, the breast-stroke doesn't look as dynamic as the butterfly, which is an important consideration inasmuch as Tsongas is putting his swimming on display to help dispel concerns about his health. He retired from the U.S. Senate eight years ago after it was discovered that he had lymphatic cancer, but his doctor now says that the cancer has disappeared, thanks to a bone-marrow transplant. As Tsongas points out, "All the reports in the world do not alleviate people's concerns about cancer. The butterfly stroke does."
Other than the different stroke, Tsongas insists that his campaign employs no gimmickry. His swimming is certainly no gimmick. He may not be the "world-class swimmer" that The Boston Globe called him, but he is a fine swimmer indeed. At the same meet in which he helped set that U.S. medley-relay record, Tsongas was part of a team that broke the world Masters coed freestyle mark for 200 meters. Imagine: a world record in the free by a prospective leader of the free world.
A Higher Calling
Hoops are no longer a habit for Shelly Pennefather
After graduating from Villanova in 1987, Shelly Pennefather, a six-foot All-America forward, went to Japan for four years to play women's pro basketball for the Nippon Express. Then last June, Pennefather gave up her $200,000-a-year salary and committed herself to a somewhat different organization, one that requires prayer, poverty, fasting, seclusion, almost-total silence and abstinence from, among other things, candy bars, cheesecake, three-pointers and posting up in the paint. Pennefather joined a Roman Catholic order of cloistered nuns called the Poor Clares, in Alexandria, Va.
To Pennefather's family and friends her decision to enter the religious life didn't come as a surprise. Even though she was recruited by some 200 colleges, the only offers Pennefather seriously considered were from three Catholic schools. During her recent off-seasons, she worked as a volunteer at Mother Teresa's mission in Norristown, Pa.
But Pennefather didn't join just any religious group. Founded in 1212, the Poor Clares are considered the most conservative of all cloistered orders. Contact with Pennefather is so limited that her parents, who live in nearby Manassas, can visit her only three times this year. Even during these visits Pennefather is shielded behind a screen. However, once a week Pennefather's parents get a glimpse of their daughter. "We go to mass at the small chapel that the public is allowed into," says her father, Bill. "We like to see her every week, just to make sure she didn't jump the wall."