Adolph Kiefer of Chicago broke his first world backstroke record at 17, and in a dozen years of competition added a poolful of world and national championships. At 42, Kiefer and his wife Joyce are raising four youngsters who may set some comparable swimming records themselves. Shown above are Joyce Kiefer, Adolph, Gail, 9, Jack, 14, Kathy, 12, and Dale, 16.
Kiefer believes a serious competitor must swim at least 3,000 miles (about 3,000 practice hours) to develop a style. "You're not competing," he says, "but you're developing technique." His own children train three hours each morning, again each night.
In their own age groups, the youngsters have already developed winning ways. Dale was twice Illinois individual medley champion, third nationally in this event for 200 meters. Jack, who has won four firsts in national meets, set a 100-meter-backstroke record of 1:08.3. Only Kathy has had to settle for seconds and thirds ("She's a reader," says her mother. "Three books a weekend.").
So far, 9-year-old Gail has not done any competitive swimming. But, Kiefer predicts, "She's the one with real natural ability. She looks terrific." Adds Mrs. Kiefer: "Gail says she's not going to start until she can win."