SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
August 28, 1989
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August 28, 1989


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So much for the much-discussed demise of American swimming. On Sunday in Tokyo's Yoyogi pool, four U.S. swimmers smashed world records in a span of six hours. Only a few times in history—and never in this decade—have four swimmers from a single country set individual world records on the same day.

Mike Barrowman led Sunday's barrage with a 2:12.89 in his midday qualifying heat of the 200-meter breast. Barrowman was fired up by the news that two days earlier at the European Championships in Bonn. Nick Gillingham of England had equaled Barrowman's 17-day-old world record of 2:12.90. Janet Evans opened the late-afternoon finals by lowering her world mark in the 800 free by nearly a second, to 8:16.22. Dave Wharton then completed the 200 individual medley in 2:00.11 to shave .06 off the record held by Tamás Darnyi of Hungary. Moments later, Tom Jager scorched the 50 free in 22.12, clipping .02 off Matt Biondi's world mark.

Wharton and Jager were trying to atone for disappointing showings at the Seoul Olympics. All four record-setters plan to stick around for the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Said U.S. team spokesman Jeff Dimond after the record binge, "We've been faxing all our results over to Bonn. I guarantee you the European swimmers will be studying these puppies pretty closely."


Back in May of 1988, K.C. Jones resigned as coach of the Boston Celtics—under pressure, insiders said—to clear the way for the team to promote highly touted assistant coach Jimmy Rodgers. Last week, in what would seem to be a huge step down for a man who so recently coached the Celts, Jones accepted a job as an assistant with the Seattle SuperSonics.

The move wasn't as surprising as it might first appear. After a year as Boston's vice-president of basketball operations. Jones, 57, yearned to get back into coaching—but he wasn't exactly a hot property. Although in eight seasons as an NBA coach (five with the Celtics and three with the Bullets) Jones led his teams to seven division titles and four league championships, he had a reputation for undercoaching.

Seattle wanted him anyway. Jones's friendship with Sonics coach Bernie Bickerstaff dates back to 1972, when Jones coached the ABA San Diego Conquistadors, and Bickerstaff the University of San Diego. When Jones became head coach of the Bullets in 1973, he hired Bickerstaff as an assistant. Now Bickerstaff hopes that Jones, who earned 10 championship rings as a Celtic player and coach, can bring his winning touch to the Sonics.

Jones also gives Seattle an insurance policy. At one point last season Bickerstaff, 45, was hospitalized with an ulcer, and his top assistant, Bob Kloppenburg, 62, was in bed with arthritis, leaving less experienced assistant Tom Newell and team president Bob Whitsitt as acting head coaches. In Bickerstaff's absence, Seattle went 1-5.

Jones, whose winning percentage as an NBA coach is .706, surely could do better than that.

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