Farrell’s ‘My Olympic Story: Rome 1960’ wins book award

Jeff Farrell's My Olympic Story

The cover of Jeff Farrell’s book, published in 2014.

Santa Barbara’s Jeff Farrell will receive the 2015 Buck Dawson Author Award for non-fiction from the International Swimming Hall of Fame at a banquet in Santa Clara, Calif., in June.

My Olympic Story – Rome 1960,”  is a memoir from Farrell recounting his story of qualifying for the Olympics just six days after having an appendectomy. He went on to win two Gold Medals as one of the fastest swimmers of his time. Published in 2014, the book adds personal reflection to the incredible sports story first told in detail in the 1970 book by Jean Henning, “Six Days to Swim.”

Farrell dedicated the book to his father, Felix, and to his coaches Bob Kiphuth, Phil Moriarty, Matt Mann, Bob Timmons and Soichi Sakamoto.

A number of comments from important swimming figures are published in the opening pages.

From famous distance swimmer Diana Nyad:

“The Jeff Farrell story will go down as one of the most dramatic, heart-tugging, inspiring moments in all Olympic history. The courage Jeff manifested to turn a tragedy into an uplifting life lesson paves the way for the rest of us to find hope and joy, where there could have been the choice of bitter sadness.”

John Naber set four world records and won four Gold Medals at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

“I used Jeff’s story to inspire me while I was preparing for my Olympic swims,” Naber said. “To read what was going through his mind during hir remarkable journey is a real treat. The allure of any personal dream is powerful indeed. Read this book, and make your dreams come true.”

Here’s the full press release issued by the International Swimming Hall of Fame:

Fort Lauderdale – The Awards and Recognition Committee of the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Buck Dawson Author’s Awards: For Non-Fiction category – Jeff Farrell, My Olympic Story: Rome 1960. For Technical works – Sheila Taormina, Swim Speed Strokes for Swimmers and Triathletes. In the Children’s category – Barb Rosenstock, Ben Franklin’s Big Splash – the mostly true story of his first invention.

This award is presented by ISHOF in the name of William “Buck” Dawson, ISHOF’s founding Executive Director, to authors of works that positively promote and educate people about swimming.

Dawson was a veteran of WWII who served as assistant and publicist for Generals Gavin and Ridgeway in the 82nd Airborne. From the time he was chosen to lead ISHOF in 1962, until his death in 2008, Buck traveled around the world armed with Hall of Fame brochures, books and bumper stickers always spreading the word, always willing to talk and teach swimming and swimming history to anyone who would listen. He wrote hundreds of articles and was the author of eight books, ranging in subjects from Bathing Beauties to war, but especially swimming. The Awards will be presented to the recipients in conjunction with ISHOF’s 51st Annual Honoree Weekend, on Friday, June 19th, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Jeff Farrell – My Olympic Story: Rome 1960
“In the long history of American Olympic swimming glory,” wrote the legendary Olympic filmmaker, Bud Greenspan, “there is one little known story that stands out above the rest for courage and the ability to endure.” That story belongs to Jeff Farrell, and it’s the story Jeff tells himself, for the first time, in his well-written debut book, My Olympic Story: Rome 1960. But is more than a telling of the events featured in Greenspan’s documentary film, it is the story of an era in swimming that the pinnacle of modern competitive swimming stands upon. It is as much about the coaches, competitors and state of swimming in the 1950’s as it is about “six days” before the 1960 Olympic Trials and Olympic Games that made Jeff a national hero and icon of sportsmanship. It is a compelling story that’s an easy, fun and compelling read.

Sheila Taormina – Swim Speed Strokes for Swimmers and Triathletes
Sheila Taormina has competed in four Olympic games and is the only woman in the world to have competed in three different sports on the Olympic stage—swimming, triathlon, and modern pentathlon. She is a coach, motivational speaker and dynamo inside her 5’2” body. She’s also a best selling author, with Swim Speed Strokes for Swimmers and Triathletes being the third of her best-selling “Swim Speed” series. By combining crystal-clear photographs of some of the world’s best swimmers with an engaging, straightforward writing style, Sheila demystifies the science behind power and speed in the water, the elements common to every stroke, and stroke techniques and enhances the learning process whether training with or without a coach.

Barb Rosenstock, Ben Franklin’s Big Splash – the mostly true story of his first invention.
One of ISHOF’s most popular exhibits is on the history of hand paddles, which can be traced to a 1773 letter from ISHOF Hall of Famer Benjamin Franklin, to an acquaintance in France, wherein Franklin Franklin describes what is believed to be his first invention at the age of 11.

“Before the world knew the famous Doctor Benjamin Franklin,” writes Barb Rosenstock, “his neighbors knew him as Ben, the sturdy, saucy, smelly son of a soap maker… who loved to swim.” Rosenstock sets just the right playful and rather silly tone with this biographical picture book and with Ben swimming on almost every page, she includes plenty of details about society in the 1700s and how it was different from our modern one. Using different fonts and repeating words, she also emphasizes the importance of trial and error in science and solving problems.

She also ties in the fact that this is how science works and how scientists learn things, along with a healthy dose of dedication and resolve.

The illustrations by S.D. Schindler are marvelous, cleverly covering up the more private parts of the naked swimming boy with splashes and waves. They have a light-hearted quality to them and also a visual lightness that makes the book even funnier as they swim across the page.

Copies of all three books will be available for sale all during the weekend.

About ISHOF: The International Hall of Fame, founded in 1965, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to inspire everyone to be a swimmer by promoting the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children. For more information about ISHOF, see www.ishof.org