SI Vault
September 21, 1964
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September 21, 1964


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In the days when 130-foot J boats raced for the America's Cup, the only medicine professional deckhands knew was a quick hair of the dog as the sun got up. But boats have changed and so have crews. The amateur tastes of the latter are exemplified by the 22 "survival kits" which have been given to the men aboard defender Constellation and challenger Sovereign. Each kit holds a collapsible tin cup, a pint bottle of French cognac "to be administered for seasickness and exposure" and 12 Bayer aspirin for everything else.

The downcast crewmen of the defeated cup candidate, American Eagle, were naturally given neither brandy nor aspirin, but they devised a survival method of their own. At a Newport bar one recent morning, 13 Eagle hands quaffed, in a little under two hours, 153 Bloody Marys. This works out to one drink per man every 10 minutes. One wonders: if that many Bloody Marys were necessary to quench the morning after, what kind of inferno had been lighted the night before?


From the start to the finish of every race, a competitive swimmer is half deaf and half blind. The cheers of the crowd come to him only faintly through the turmoil of rushing water and, since his eyes do not focus properly under water, there is always his fear that he will muff the next turn or that a rival in a distant lane is stealing ahead.

At the Olympic Games in Tokyo next month, thanks to an invention borrowed from skin-diving (SI, Dec. 16), male swimmers of the U.S. will, at least, be able to see. Two dozen of the American men have been fitted out with what are known as "scleral contact air lenses," a special type of contact lens that, like a tiny face mask on each eyeball, brings the underwater world into sharp definition.

No one can say how much performances will be improved, but the U.S. Olympic coach, Dr. James Counsilman, thinks the experiment worth pursuing. One of Counsilman's butterfly swimmers at Indiana University—a chronically nearsighted freshman named Johnny Collins—wore the new lenses last winter and took seven seconds off his 200-meter time. "I don't know how much of this can be credited to lenses," Dr. Counsilman reports, "but I can tell you this: Collins is no longer butting into the wall at the end of every lap."


You may not like it—he doesn't even like it—but Chicago's Chris McCarthy is the best long-distance walker in America. Just the other day, matter of fact, he won the 50-kilometer (about 31 miles) race in the Olympic trials in Seattle. Yet his unsizzling time was 4:45:31, or about 30 minutes longer than the world record, held by an Italian.

Can a red-blooded American boy really be all that bad? Sure, says McCarthy, and for a number of reasons. On the one hand, McCarthy is a preoccupied scholar (he is studying for his doctorate in political science at the University of Chicago) and a house painter, this being his means of keeping his lean body and soul together. On the other hand, he says, this nation's walkers start from too small a group, the administration of the sport is badly handled and "frankly, there are no good coaches." On top of all that, U.S. walkers are discouraged because people snicker when they see them.

Chris McCarthy, so self-assured that he predicted his Olympic trials victory last winter, has no illusions about the Olympic Games themselves, and says he may not even bother to go. "It would be like stepping into a ring with Sonny Liston," he believes. But there is an elevating corollary to that thought which McCarthy might mull over. Cassius Clay is another young man people used to laugh at—until he stepped out of a ring with Sonny Liston.

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