Before his 1,500-meter attempt, Saari tried the 400-meter individual medley, an event he would normally be favored to win even under the most discouraging circumstances. As a matter of fact, he bettered the existing world record, swimming the first 200 meters like a man possessed—and the last 50 meters as if that water polo team were hanging on his ankles. With the wholesome disregard that all teen-agers have for world record holders, 16-year-old Dick Roth swam right past Saari to lower the old world medley record to 4:48.6.
One ancient veteran of 17 who should be investigated—perhaps by the Attorney General's office—is Donna de Varona of the Santa Clara Swim Club, who does not fit Bobby Kennedy's lament for America's "athletic dropouts" (SI, July 27) one bit. While many girls begin competitive swimming at 7, Miss de Varona frittered away the first nine years of her life. She never competed in a national championship until she was 12, although she has since had what you might call a fair streak of luck. She made the Olympic team at 13. At one time or another she has held four world records. She has competed 44 times in quest of national titles and has won 18, including 200-and 400-meter medleys last week. If she does well in the Olympic trials, she could win anywhere from one to four gold medals at Tokyo.
It would seem that if the U.S. can keep such ancients as de Varona and Schollander in competition until they reach 20 or 22, our swimming program may not be ready to gurgle and go under just yet.