"I'm just glad that his school hours next year are the same as my post-office hours. I definitely want to be home when he is."
Franzi Grummt leads a group of nine young swimmers in a set of 25-meter intervals, four in each stroke, in the Sporthalle pool near Schornsheim. Her father walks the deck, strenuously critiquing. Shy on land, Franzi is transformed in the water, windmilling through it with verve, if not a lot of glide. She smiles through the last strokes of every length. Tiffany, her workout concluded, does cannonballs off [he diving board. Their mother watches.
"I don't come down here often enough," Ender says. "Franzi's strokes ire deteriorating. Steffen doesn't have the eye for detail yet in swimming."
Yet Ender is hardly a pushy mother. "Steffen would really like to make one of them into a top athlete," she says. "I'd prefer that neither be one. Part of it is the odds against success. Part of it is the things they'd have to give up. Franzi has mentioned the guitar. It's a nice thing to be able to do, play the guitar with your friends."
Not at every YMCA can you order a cognac and watch the swimmers through glass, but here you can, and Ender does. "It wasn't easy for Franzi to come west," she says. "Back in the GDR she was following in the footsteps of my parents and me, becoming a good communist. When we had political doubts, we didn't discuss them in front of her. After we got here, she cried a lot at night. When we had things, even salt, that she knew they didn't have in the East, she asked if we shouldn't send them to Grandpa and Grandma. Erich Honecker was a person to her, someone she adored. Only now is she understanding him as the architect of a system that did great harm. It was so difficult for her. My folks offered to take her back for a while—she's their favorite—but she's come around."
In the pool Tiffany works water-doggedly at her turns. "She's the ambitious one," Ender says. "In school, in sport. She's very orderly. That's from her father. Everything has to be perfect in her room. Her notebook can't have a corner turned. But she's a sweet, cuddly, all-around girl, perfect for her age."
Grummt and the girls come out of the Sporthalle hungry for dinner. "You should see Kornelia swim," he says. "It takes you back 20 years."
"Well, come to Indianapolis," she says. This turns out to mean that she is swimming the freestyle and backstroke at the World Masters Swimming Championships in early July.
Back at the house she conducts a tour that ends in a downstairs study, before a cabinet of glass and wood. The trophies, coins and orders of merit from both Ender's and Grummt's careers are displayed in front of photo montages of teammates. Her sets of 1972 and '76 Olympic medals are not complete. "I always gave one medal to my coach," she says. A silver from Munich is cold and heavy in the hand and black with tarnish. "Only the golds," Ender says lightly, "stay bright."
Her remaining three gold medals are set in wooden plaques. Looking at them, she suddenly says, "Why should I even think about these golds now being tainted? Why, when I didn't know anything then or now? Why should I even give a thought to what might have been given to me 16 years ago, when I was that child you see in the pictures?"