Ferreras plans to keep going down, down, down until he hits 500 feet. "When I go to 500, maybe I'll say 600," he says. "Nobody knows the human limit. Seals are mammals and can dive 4,000 feet. Remember: We came from the water, too."
Field of Worms
Here's the latest dirt we've dug up on that most eclectic of British athletic endeavors, worm charming. Late last month 150 Brits wriggled their way to the Willaston Primary School in Cheshire County for the 16th annual World Worm-Charming Championships. There the competitors spent the day trying to lure worms out of the flinty soil.
Each charmer is allotted a 30-square-foot plot of earth and a half hour in which to entice as many vermi as possible to appear. World-class worm baiters know their prey will rise to the occasion after a downpour. In this event, however, the use of water is considered highly unsporting. Instead, wormaniacs simulate the patter of rain against earth by tap dancing, seesawing and plunging garden forks into the ground.
But our favorite method of extraction was employed by the former constable who tried to win worms over with felt hammers and a tape of Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head.
Purgatory for Pancho?
A recurring theme in the obituaries of Richard (Pancho) Gonzales last week was that this great player was tennis's first enfant terrible, the progenitor of a generation of boors. Gonzales, in fact, did complain from time to time about questionable calls and even whacked an occasional ball into the seats in a fit of pique. He responded, often heatedly, to hecklers. He was not above teasing an opponent if he thought it might give him an edge. And once he even threw a courtside chair at a tournament referee whom he considered negligent.
In his day such behavior was considered abhorrent. Now it is merely the norm. Or did you miss the farcical goings-on at Wimbledon, where not one player but three got the boot, and the wife of one of them took a poke at a chair umpire? If these churls are the inheritors of the Gonzales legacy, then poor Pancho ought to be committed immediately and without clemency to purgatory.
Gonzales did have a chip on his shoulder. His court ferocity was fed in no small part by a sense of social inferiority that was accentuated in a sport then considered upper crust. No country-club kid, he learned his game on the public courts as an urban warrior. And if he behaved badly at times, it was not out of petulance, but out of a deep-seated dread of failure. Mostly, he was an imposing and even dignified presence on the court.
Gonzales would certainly have resented suggestions that he had anything at all in common with the Visigoths who have succeeded him on the courts. And we agree. After all, in his lifetime he had five wives—including an older sister of Andre Agassi—and none of them ever slugged a chair umpire.