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Outstanding athletes are often forced into retirement by injuries, defeat and old age, a process that leaves many of them bitter and frustrated. Maren Seidler, 30, who holds the American women's record of 62'7�" in the shotput, appears to be a blessed exception. In June 1980, competing in the U.S. track-and-field championships in Walnut, Calif., Seidler won her ninth straight national outdoor title and 11th in 14 years and said, "I may be around a long time." She added, "I wouldn't do this unless I enjoyed it."
Now, suddenly, Seidler, a wonderfully bright and ebullient woman, apparently doesn't enjoy it—or not enough, anyway. After making the 1980 U.S. Olympic team—she also made the '68, '72 and '76 squads—she took a long layoff, planning to return to competition this summer. But she has changed her mind and now says she's retiring. She leaves her sport with a sense of fulfillment rather than frustration. "I've been putting the shot for 16 years, more than half my life," she says. "I feel finished. I guess it's been in the back of my mind for a while. I simply didn't think I had enough to give to shotputting. There was no good reason to do it anymore. It just seemed silly. The other day in practice I picked up the shot to throw it and instead just laid it back down."
SWIFT, SURE AND PLEBEIAN
Members of the yachting set in the Pacific Northwest are still shaking their heads over the outcome of this year's Swiftsure, the prestigious 136.2-mile race that runs from Victoria, British Columbia, through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and 15 miles out into the Pacific, then back to Victoria. The overall winner was the 41-foot sloop Heather, which flew the burgee not of any of the old-line yacht clubs that usually dominate the Swiftsure but of the upstart and plebeian Sloop Tavern Yacht Club, which operates out of a bar on Seattle's waterfront. What's more, Heather was manned by eight Explorer Scouts, aged 15 to 19, from Seattle Post 950 and skippered by their adviser, Fred Roswold, a 35-year-old data processor for a Seattle bank. Except for Roswold, the winning sailors were too young to attend an impromptu victory party at the Sloop Tavern, whose owner, Wayne Schmidt, said, "What do you want me to do, lose my license?"
Drinking ages aside, the affiliation between the tavern and the Scouts is a natural. The Sloop Tavern Yacht Club consists of 150 members, mostly "weekend sailing couples who like to race a little," as Schmidt puts it. Explorer Post 950 has 25 members, who take turns practicing aboard Heather on Puget Sound. The Scouts don't hail from sailing families. "Most of our members have never sailed before joining the Scouts," says Roswold. "I've got kids who can't even afford foul-weather gear. And the sailing program costs them only about $15 a year, and we're not real strict about that." This year's Swiftsure was the second in which Post 950 competed aboard Heather. Roswold says the light air that prevailed was ideal for Heather, adding, "We were really up for this race. The kids spent a week getting ready and they didn't fool around. They worked hard, ate the right foods and got plenty of rest."
While the Scouts aren't bluebloods, Heather is. She was built in 1975 for John Buchan, a member of one of Seattle's most prominent yachting families, who donated her to Post 950 when his new 53-footer Glory was christened last year. Ah, noblesse oblige. Buchan and Glory were first across the line in the Swiftsure but, on a corrected-time basis, finished 14 places behind the cast-off boat that, thanks to Buchan's generosity, now represents Post 950 and the Sloop Tavern Yacht Club.
A BRACING DRAFT