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Nineteen-sixty A.D. looks, at this moment, to be a year of destiny for the attractive young ladies you will find at work and fun on the following four pages. They are among the handful of teen-agers who hope to be in Rome next August with one undeviating purpose in mind: to end the Australian domination of international swimming—women's swimming, that is.
Championship swimming is one of those sports that jealously refuses to share the waking hours of its practitioners with any but the most essential activities. Life in a nunnery would seem almost prodigal by comparison. The mother of 16-year-old Sylvia Ruuska, the best of the U.S. distance swimmers, explains: "Our girl trains in the summer three times a day—from 7 to 8 in the morning at the YMCA here (in Berkeley, Calif.), then from 11:30 to one at the Navy's 50-meter Treasure Island pool and again from 4:30 to 6 at Treasure Island. To meet that schedule, plus sleeping and eating, everything else must be secondary."
So it is not difficult to understand why only the very young will make the sacrifice. Although the girls like to talk about boys and clothes as well as swimming, they know that the idle pleasures must await their more mature years.
The beauty salon's loss is swimming's gain. "I got a pixie haircut," says Molly Botkin, who will be defending her 200-meter freestyle championship at next week's AAU outdoor championship in Redding, Calif., where other young ladies featured in the following pictures will also be present. What she means to say, she explains, is that her coiffure looks like the work of a hung-over barber. But what can a girl do who has to swim hours on end without a bathing cap?
Major clues to U.S. swimming hopes at Rome will be offered at Redding and next month's Pan American Games in Chicago. As results unfold and Australian anxieties mount, there will be exuberance aplenty—as on the opposite page—for these girls are little more than children despite their very adult performances.
Hugs and kisses are normal aftermath of victory in girls' swimming, as Becky Collins demonstrates following her splashing success in the 200-yard butterfly. Mom (kneeling) and Dad (with clipboard) wait to offer their hugs next. Becky ignores profound exhaustion to share her thrilling win.
Outdoors at the senior AAU indoor championships at West Palm Beach (above), some leading girl freestylists strike out in the 500-yard heat. (It is not unusual for indoor championships to be held outdoors if proper requirements for water temperature and pool length are met.) At right: butterfly titleholder Sylvia Ruuska's hair parts at the peak of a flawless glide.