Despite its obvious natatorial adornments, the Konrads home functions more as a refuge from swimming than as an operations camp for planning new forays against the record book. Swimming is rarely discussed except to oblige the interests of a visitor. For all their dedication to swimming, the Konradses remain a personable and well-mannered pair. John exhibits more and more a worldly aplomb, but Ilsa is still somewhat embarrassed by the almost constant publicity.
With Australia's National Championships about to begin and the Rome Olympics coming up, a great, teasing question has naturally arisen: can the Konradses pull off twin grand slams by capturing every freestyle record and all the freestyle gold at Rome? The answer is: very probably not. John's chances at present seem the better, but still they are slim. He still has to regain his 200-meter and 400-meter records from Japan's Yamanaka and lick his fellow Australian, world-record holder John Devitt, at 100 meters and 110 yards. Though he will be obliged to swim longer than metric distances in the Australian Nationals, and thus will be handicapped in trying to take metric marks back from Yamanaka, John has entered all freestyle events, from 110 to 1,650 yards, and plans to swim "flat out" in all. Ilsa's prospects for a grand slam are virtually nullified so long as the Australian sprint veteran, Dawn Fraser, continues in excellent form.
However long either or both of them is good for in the top ranks of swimming, there is no doubt that the Konradses are one of the nicest brother-sister acts that ever played the boards anywhere. One of the charming sidelights of all the meets in which they compete is the genuine joy, usually manifest in bear hugs, that each shows when the other wins. The close bond has existed, Mother Elza Konrads testifies, since early childhood, when Ilsa preferred playing American cowboys and Indians with John rather than dawdling with dolls. Their capacity to share, as it were, both the lonely work of training and the glory is doubtless the big factor in their continuing enthusiasm for a sport where monotony can be a real bugaboo. If the ennui of the dangerous age is beginning to tell on them, neither Konrads is aware of it. To an interviewer who recently asked them if they felt they were being treated like performing seals, John snapped, "Do we look unhappy, worn out, bullied or downtrodden? We are doing what we love to do, and we wouldn't change a moment of it."