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A Little Water Music, Please
Craig Neff
March 29, 1982
The University of Florida's Craig Beardsley, who bows a mean cello, swims the 200 fly faster than anyone in the world
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March 29, 1982

A Little Water Music, Please

The University of Florida's Craig Beardsley, who bows a mean cello, swims the 200 fly faster than anyone in the world

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After that performance, the only person who still considers Craig introverted is his girl friend, Florida swimmer Rosie Brown. "We shared the same lane in practice for a year before he said a word to me," she says. Brown, a native of Brisbane, Australia, who swam freestyle events at the Moscow Olympics, belongs to one of Australia's better-known families. One of her sisters is a leading model there and the weather girl on national television, and the other is married to Dick Crealy, an Australian tennis player. Rosie wants to go into broadcasting herself, though probably in the U.S. "My father can't understand me over the phone anymore," she says. "He claims that I've got a horrible American accent."

The couple has gone together for a year and a half with the blessing of Reese, who normally discourages romance between team members. During that time Beardsley has won one NCAA and two national titles. "It surely hasn't hurt," says Craig. He has taught her how to use chopsticks; she has taught him Australian slang.

In Gainesville, Beardsley rents a remarkably messy slab house with three current or former Florida swimmers. "The roaches pay nothing," says Rosie, who lives in a dorm. What amazes Beardsley's roommates, as it always has his parents, is his appetite. "I'd leave the house after cooking a three-pound roast for dinner," says his mother, "and when I'd come back a few hours later the whole roast would be gone."

"I've counted him eating 25,000 to 30,000 calories in a single day," says Russ. "We even took him to a doctor to see if something was wrong. It's just all that swimming. If he stops for a week, he'll put on 15 pounds."

Oddly, when he came to Florida, Beardsley was too light; he once had to slip a 2½-pound weight down the back of his suit at a team weigh-in to avoid getting in dutch with Reese. These days he munches Oreos while he studies, and knows every all-you-can-eat deal in town, from the Holiday Inn West's $3.25 breakfast buffet to Papa Jay's $2.89 fried chicken special. "The best place to go is Burrito Brothers," he says. "They've got the biggest burritos you've ever seen."

Beardsley rides a motorcycle around campus, but plans to sell it. It isn't adequate to carry his surfboard, his cello or Rosie. "My father gave me a choice between a motorcycle and a home computer as a reward for my world record last summer," says Beardsley. "I made a stupid choice." A business major, he hopes to become his father's partner someday and work with the small computers that are Russ's newest line. But until the 1984 Olympics, Craig intends to stay at Florida and train.

"People ask Rosie and me, 'If you get married and have kids, what'll they look like?' " says Beardsley, whose family is already a melting pot. Russ Beardsley has a half-Chinese step-brother named Elliott Chan, and Jeanne Beardsley has relatives who live in Peru. "Well, we don't have any wedding plans or anything yet," says Craig. "We're both pretty busy now. What I have are a lot of swimming plans." And those are big plans, indeed.

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