Having Senior Editor Gilbert Rogin write the story on Don Schollander that begins on page 24 was, in a way, a match made in heaven. Schollander is the foremost swimmer of the '60s and Rogin may well be the foremost swimming nut. By Rogin's definition, a swimming nut, or SN, is not like a TN, or track nut. That is, he can't reel off Debbie Meyer's splits or describe double-S pull patterns. Rather, a swimming nut is someone who can't get through the day without a swim. He is, in short, a swimaholic. And by a "swim," Rogin does not mean a dip; a swim is something from half a mile on up.
In New York, Rogin indulges his habit at the Y, but when he is out of town on a story and doesn't know where his next swim is coming from, he tends to panic. Last July, for example, he had to go to Dallas to do a story. A full week before he was scheduled to leave New York he was desperately calling one Dallas motel after another trying to find one with a large rectangular pool. To Rogin, kidney-shaped or free-form swimming pools are anathema. "It's tough to make your turns off a curved surface," he explains.
Whenever Rogin checks into a motel, the first thing he does is find out when the pool opens. A swimming nut swims early in the morning before the pool gets cluttered up with kids, meandering old men doing the elementary backstroke and people who swim with their eyes closed, all of whom Rogin finds intolerable. "They wouldn't dream of walking along a sidewalk backwards or in a zigzag or running around with their eyes shut tight," he says. "But once they get in a swimming pool...."
There are unanticipated crises, too, like waking up in a motel that has a properly proportioned pool and finding that it is being drained. When this happened to Rogin recently in Riverside, Calif., he dashed to the pool and frantically did his laps as he and the water slowly sank and the walls rose above him. Toward the finish he was crawling on his hands and knees at the shallow end, but he completed his mile. The swimming nut is not easily deterred. Last fall when Rogin was on assignment in Haines Falls, N.Y., the temperature fell to 27° one night; nonetheless, the next day he was out there in the unheated pool doing half a mile—in what was, doubtlessly, record time for him.
April 1, 1968
Rogin estimates that if he and Don Schollander raced each other in the half, Schollander would win by 320 yards. For this reason he elected not to work out with the Yale team when he was doing the Schollander story. Instead, he swam separately in a practice pool. One afternoon Schollander asked him what he did that day. "Oh, about 1,000," said Rogin airily. "Without stopping?" asked the Olympian. "Without stopping!" said SN Rogin, who is still not sure whether he had been insulted or complimented.
Take a Tip from Me, Jack Nicklaus' new book of golfing tips, goes on sale this week. Published by Simon and Schuster ($4.95), the book is a compendium of golfing tips and feature-length stories that appeared originally in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.