The decision cost Mr. Rose more than $8,000. "My wife returned to Australia for four months to do Murray's cooking," he explains, "and then we both went to Rome, where we took an apartment for one month to prepare his meals during the Games. But I can't think of anything I'd have done differently," he says, lightly patting his empty pocket.
In Rome, Rose retained his 400-meter crown and finished second in the 1,500. His durability in world-class competition amazed the experts, although they had long acknowledged that Rose has a talent for tactics that is unequaled in swimming history. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about him is that he has won an exceptional number of close races. "He's embarrassed for the other fellow," is the way USC coach Daland explains it. Mr. Rose agrees: "When he was young, he always contrived to beat the other boy by as little as possible." Daland recalls a meet two years ago when USC was rated a 50-50 chance of winning. "But everyone came through and we annihilated them," he says. "On the bus home, Murray didn't feel well and I asked him what was wrong. 'I don't think we should have done that,' he said—and yet he was the star of the meet."
However, Rose himself says simply that a close race is more fun, both for the spectator and the swimmer. And he adds, with a ruthless matter-of-factness that would startle those who think of him as purely gentle, "If you are racing a man the object is to break him. You can break the other man's confidence by doing certain things. If he finds he's ahead, he's elated. If he finds he's behind, he's not. If he finds the lead changing frequently, he becomes confused. The big thing is to make him feel you are controlling the race."
The essence of victory
Rose sometimes sets the controls before a race begins. "There's the old stand-by," he grins, "of making your man think you're faster than you really are. Get someone to time you in a practice session but stop the watch early."
But what really counts, he says, is concentration. "If you can concentrate so that time is meaningless, a race will give you complete pleasure and you will feel no pain."