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THEY'RE POOLING THEIR TALENT

July 10, 1978
July 10, 1978

Table of Contents
July 10, 1978

A.L. West
Nancy Lopez
Mission Viejo
St. Andrews
Baseball
Rowing
Messing
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

THEY'RE POOLING THEIR TALENT

In the past five years members of California's Mission Viejo swim club have won 48 national titles. Their mission nuevo for the next two years is Moscow

It is 7:02 a.m. and Mark Schubert is annoyed. "Shut up!" he snaps at two girls, still half-asleep but jabbering on the deck of the 50-meter pool. The girls fall silent. Within seconds they and their 60-odd teammates on the national team of the Mission Viejo swim club are in the water, swimming laps, but Schubert is still frowning. "Move it," he yells to nobody—and everybody—in particular. Practice was supposed to start at 7 o'clock and two minutes have been lost forever. To socializing.

This is an article from the July 10, 1978 issue Original Layout

Schubert's top swimmers spend five hours every day in the water and another hour lifting weights. They work out twice a day, six days a week, 11 months a year. During the school year the first workout begins at 5:30 a.m. at Mission Viejo High and swimmers can be seen slumped in their cars in the parking lot, catching a few last winks in the lifting darkness. Even now, summertime, when all workouts have shifted to the Mission Viejo International Swim Complex and morning sessions start at the more civilized hour of seven, the regimen guarantees a long day. Swimmers finish the first workout at 9:30, then return to the pool at 4 p.m. to lift weights before going into the water again at five. At 7:30, Schubert signals the end of the session by flipping vitamin tablets to his spent athletes. Still in the water, they lunge at the offerings with open mouths, like seals going after fish.

But these swimmers at the peak of the club's pyramid are not the only ones expending energy in Mission Viejo, Calif., a planned community of 43,000 occupying a stretch of hilly Orange County 50 miles south of Los Angeles. The club has 550 members all told and the swimmers on the lower rungs walk, bicycle or are car-pooled to workouts at the high school and at the 25-yard pools in the Montanoso and Sierra recreation centers as well as in the main complex. There are novice groups, a bewildering array of age-group sessions—the 9-10s with the 11-12s, for example—and also senior "B" and "C" groups. And there are learn-to-swim classes for children as young as 4. What all these groups have in common is a no-nonsense approach decreed from on high by Schubert. "The stars have to toe the line and set an example for the younger kids," he says. "The younger kids have to toe the line because they're the future stars."

Contrary to what some rivals say, Mission Viejo swimmers aren't always drilled until they drop and they don't automatically turn into champions as soon as they don their blue-and-gold sweat suits. It only seems that way.

The Mission Viejo Nadadores dominate most levels of swimming in the U.S., turning out age-group record holders and world-beaters alike. This was the home club of Shirley Babashoff, the now retired queen of American swimming. It remains the summer club of the sport's reigning glamour boy, UCLA sophomore Brian Goodell, the 1976 Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder in the 400-and 1,500-meter freestyles. And of American record holders Jesse Vassallo (400-yard individual medley) and Alice Browne (800-meter freestyle). And AAU champions Dawn Rodighiero, Valerie Lee and Jennifer Hooker. Then there is Mission Viejo's foreign contingent, which this summer includes Australian backstroker Mark Tonelli, a fourth-place finisher in Montreal (and an AAU champion), and Olympic bronze medalist Enith Brigitha of the Netherlands. In all, nine Olympians from four countries are training in Mission Viejo. As though that were not enough, the Nadadores also have a new diving team, whose impressive ranks include Jennifer Chandler, the 1976 gold medalist in the three-meter event, and Greg Louganis, the silver medalist in the tower.

Mission Viejo's swimmers and divers keep the water roiling in six pools around town. The hub of this activity, the International Swim Complex, consists of a 50-meter pool, a 25-yard warmup pool, a diving well and a carpeted weight room. There, beneath a hillside bedecked with marigolds arranged in outsized letters spelling MISSION VIEJO, Goodell & Company can be seen swimming laps while Chandler & Company arch gracefully through the air. The site is also used for major meets, including the annual Mission Viejo Invitational, national Masters and age-group championships and last year's AAU long-course nationals.

Obviously, there is something special happening below Mission Viejo's marigolds. The U.S. has long been the world's leading swimming power, thanks in large part to go-getting community swim clubs that compete strongly with the baseball and football coaches for the good young athletes. These clubs are typically put together by upper-middle-class swim parents, who bicker with the coaches but who also pay dues, sponsor bake sales and wrangle enough dollars from local tire dealers and soft-drink distributors to keep the clubs going. Mission Viejo is different. The Nadadores are formally co-sponsored by a boosters club consisting mainly of parents. But the other sponsor—and the club's founder—is the Mission Viejo Company, the high-powered land-development firm that built the town. Now a $150-million-a-year subsidiary of Philip Morris Inc., the Mission Viejo Company remains a commanding presence in the unincorporated community. Leaving police and fire protection to Orange County, it builds and runs recreational facilities and parcels out new housing developments. And it gets involved in zoning, landscaping and other civic matters.

It also throws its corporate weight behind swimming. First, the Mission Viejo Company built and freely makes available all the pools used by the Nadadores except the one at Mission Viejo High, thus sparing the club the need to scrounge for pool time the way other teams do. It also provides operating funds. The Mission Viejo swim club is a $250,000-a-year enterprise, with $100,000 coming from dues and $50,000 from the boosters club. Another $100,000 is anted up by the Mission Viejo Company. Such corporate largesse is unheard of at the club level in swimming, to say nothing of less favored amateur sports.

The responsibility of finding ways to spend all that money is solemnly discharged by Schubert, the Nadadores' aquatics director and head swim coach. An upstart, like Mission Viejo itself, the 29-year-old Schubert is just six years removed from obscurity as a high school coach in Ohio. Blond, lean and beach-boyish, Schubert says "super" a lot, likes to bodysurf and cuts a dashing figure at the wheel of a blue Porsche 928 outfitted with radar detector, CB radio (his handle is "Water Wings") and license plates reading SCHUBS.

But Schubert is not just another sunstruck Southern California playboy. "I've got a super deal, the best club situation in swimming," he says, and he plainly means to take advantage of these enviable circumstances. Schubert leaves his club's lesser swimmers in the care of seven assistants but takes personal charge of the national team. He loads down this select bunch with more of everything—work, discipline, innovations. A taskmaster even by swimming's notorious standards, Schubert makes his athletes log more laps and lift more weights than those on any other swim team in the U.S., but he wields the carrot as well as the stick. He has sent his swimmers to train in New Zealand and Brazil, not to mention the Soviet Union, whose swimmers have a cozy relationship with the corporate-financed club from conservative Orange County. The Soviet national team worked out under Schubert in Mission Viejo during a California tour in late 1976 and 16 Nadadores trained alongside U.S.S.R. swimmers in Moscow and Leningrad last fall. The trip to Russia was billed as a technical exchange but Schubert also saw it as a chance to let his bloodhounds sniff the quarry. "With the '80 Olympics in Moscow, going to Russia couldn't help but psych my kids up," he says.

Schubert placed six swimmers on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team, more than any other coach. Last summer he had seven swimmers on the U.S. team that won dual meets against the East Germans in Berlin and the Soviets in Leningrad. Mission Viejo swimmers won a total of eight events in those two meets. In the past five years the Nadadores have amassed 48 individual and relay titles at national AAU championships. Owing largely to Schubert's arduous, distance-oriented training program, they have been relatively weak in the sprints but devastating in the longer races, which they demonstrated in last year's AAU meet in their own pool. As the home folks cheered, Alice Browne won the 1,500 in a then world-record 16:24.60. What's more, she led teammates Jennifer Hooker, Valerie Lee, Kim Black and Tracey Wickham to a stunning 1-2-3-4-5 Mission Viejo sweep.

In August, Schubert's team will take part in the 1978 long-course championships in Woodlands, Texas. The Nadadores will be going after their eighth women's team title in the last nine AAU meets as well as their fifth straight overall (men's and women's) title. And they will be challenging Florida Aquatics for the men's title. They also will be after positions on the U.S. team that will compete in the World Aquatic Championships later that month in West Berlin.

The Nadadores hope to be represented in West Berlin in diving, too, assuming that Chandler, Louganis and some of their talented teammates perform up to snuff in the AAU diving meet next month in—ah, yes—Mission Viejo. When the movers and shakers at the Mission Viejo Company decided to get into diving last year they went after one of the sport's top coaches, Ron O'Brien, who during his 15 years at Ohio State turned out a host of collegiate and Olympic champions, Chandler among them. O'Brien accepted, arriving this May. "This is a first-class operation," he enthuses, echoing Schubert. "When these people move, they move." Having already assembled a strong contingent of world-class divers, O'Brien also contemplates making a big splash in age-group diving. However, the age-group program has been slow getting started.

"It's going to take a while finding the right kids," O'Brien concedes. "This is because everybody in town with any athletic ability is into swimming."

It is hard to believe about such a settled place but the swim-mad community O'Brien is talking about did not even exist 15 years ago. Indeed, until the early 1960s, the spot where Mission Viejo now stands was inhabited mainly by cattle. But then the Mission Viejo Company arrived with its bulldozers and big ideas and began covering the dun-colored hills with split-level houses, laying out sweeping parkways—which they graced with street lamps shaped like mission bells—and planting exotic trees and lush shrubbery. When it came to naming things, Mission Viejo's developers broke out their Spanish-English dictionaries. The result was Oso Parkway and Via Viento and the La Paz Medical Center in addition to restaurant rest-room doors inscribed Se‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¬±ores and Se‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¬±oras.

Today Mission Viejo is a thriving community teeming with joggers, churchgoers and voters who went for Proposition 13. Its residents shop in well-stocked supermarkets and fly Old Glory even when it is not the Fourth of July. They haul their boats either to the Pacific 10 miles away or to man-made Lake Mission Viejo, the town's new mile-long adornment. They know that the sun always (well, usually) shines and that last year's bitter five-day school strike was only a fleeting intrusion on their serenity. The median income in Mission Viejo is $26,000 and the average home costs about $100,000. It is a well-scrubbed place, a Hans Christian Andersen village uprooted, touched up with palm trees and late-model cars and gently set down alongside the San Diego Freeway.

The most improbable thing about Mission Viejo, though, is its emergence as a hotbed—make that the hotbed—of American swimming. What makes this doubly remarkable is that when the Mission Viejo Company started the Nadadores it did not have big-time swimming in mind. The company was building recreation centers for tennis and swimming, and a swim club seemed a suitable "activity."

The only youngster among the 40 original Nadadores who knew how to swim butterfly was 9-year-old Brian Goodell, whose father, an engineer, had moved the family to the new community of 5,000 for business reasons. Brian had swum with a club up north in Walnut Creek, Calif., and his first love was football, but his lack of size was turning into a handicap.

In those early days, the Nadadores were so bad that other clubs in Orange County refused to swim dual meets with them. As the new town grew, the club improved. By 1972 it was a respectable age-group team of 120 swimmers, mostly aged 7 to 14. Houses were selling briskly and the Mission Viejo Company was being acquired by Philip Morris. In this expansive atmosphere, a decision was made to build a 50-meter pool to go with the 25-yard Montanoso and Sierra pools then being used. Still, if the company had been really serious about swimming, it would have hired an experienced coach.

Instead, it hired Schubert. The son of a vice-president of the big Akron-based trucking company, Roadway Express Inc., Schubert had been a breaststroker at the University of Kentucky and then returned to Ohio as the high school coach in Cuyahoga Falls. There he pushed so hard for pool time that a city recreation official told him in exasperation, "You're going to be a great coach, Mark, but not in Cuyahoga Falls." Schubert took the Nadadores job, exacting a promise that the company would defray travel expenses for anybody who qualified for the nationals, something no Mission Viejo swimmer had yet done. "With the new pool and the corporate backing, I could see the possibilities even then," Schubert says.

Schubert introduced the Nadadores to two-a-day and weekend practices. He imposed tough new rules, which he insisted on calling "traditions." He locked swimmers out if they were even a minute late for practice. He made them keep logbooks. They had to raise their hands to visit the bathroom—and why didn't they take care of that before workout? But Schubert's most startling move was to ban parents from the pool deck.

"This was because of a weakness on my part," he explains today. "If parents are around, I'd be tempted to talk to them. It would be a distraction."

Schubert obviously was emboldened by the fact that his salary was paid by Mission Viejo Company and not, as in many clubs, by parents. But he pushed through his changes all at once and it almost cost him his job. Parents staged protest meetings and a lot of swimmers quit. One morning a burly father stormed the deck of the new 50-meter pool to complain about the coach's treatment of his son. Schubert wishes people would stop talking about what happened during the ensuing argument but it is unlikely that any of the swimmers doing laps that day will ever forget it. The man threw the fully clothed Schubert into the pool.

Schubert expelled his assailant's son from the club. He also somehow hung onto his job. It helped that Goodell and others were improving under the brash coach. It helped, too, that established swimmers, looking for a challenging program, were discovering the Nadadores. One development in particular secured Schubert's position. In late 1973 a band of muscular East German women took awesome command of the first World Aquatic Championships in Belgrade, stunning the American women, who until then had pretty much ruled world swimming. One of the Americans, 16-year-old Shirley Babashoff, was further demoralized by the fact that Flip Darr, her coach, was disbanding his club. Forced to shop around, another of Darr's swimmers, Bruce Furniss, tried Mission Viejo and left in a hurry, telling friends, "I'm not raising my hand to go to the bathroom." But Babashoff joined and stayed, driving the 30 miles from her home in Fountain Valley twice a day—in all, counting both round trips, 120 miles a day for Shirley and her blue Ford. "It was worth it," Babashoff now says. "After Belgrade, I needed something strict like Mark's program."

Convinced that the East German women owed their muscles and explosiveness to weight training, Schubert stepped up Mission Viejo's weight program. Babashoff, a stringbean when she joined the Nadadores, quickly fleshed out. Meanwhile, other women followed her to Mission Viejo and Schubert put them on weights, too. At the 1974 AAU long-course nationals in Concord, Calif., Babashoff led the Nadadores to the women's team title, unseating the Santa Clara Swim Club, which had won eight straight women's titles. Mission Viejo had become the country's top women's power.

This thrust the Nadadores into the forefront of the U.S. battle against the East German women, an uphill struggle that continues to the present. The GDR Wunderm‚Äö√†√∂¬¨√üdchen are products of their country's state-subsidized sports system, which makes U.S.-style bake sales and car washes seem woefully inadequate. The American men remain No. 1 in the world mainly because most of them are college swimmers who enjoy what amounts to subsidies—scholarships—of their own. On the other hand, women swimmers, unlike men, tend to mature while still in high school and competing for hometown clubs.

Schubert has tried to marshal Mission Viejo's resources to fight the East Germans on their own terms. For example, in 1976 he was able to turn over second-rank swimmers on his national team to assistants, freeing him to coach personally only the 19 Nadadores who qualified for the Olympic Trials, a coach-to-athlete ratio close to that found in GDR clubs (and far below the 100-plus swimmers routinely handled by many American club coaches). Taking another leaf from the East German book, Schubert had daily blood tests administered to his Olympic hopefuls to monitor cell counts for stress. But he did not merely ape the East Germans. Traditionally, swimmers have gone out hard in distance races and hung on, seldom swimming the second half faster than the first. But Schubert believed that swimming the second half faster—"negative-split" pacing—was the most efficient and least risky way to attack a long race. Babashoff and the rapidly improving Goodell generally covered the second half of races faster than the first, and it was largely owing to Schubert's influence that negative-split swimming became accepted strategy. In fact, this was one wrinkle that the East Germans would copy from him.

Goodell's two gold medals in Montreal were the only victories by a high school boy in the 13-event men's Olympic program that was otherwise swept, remarkably, by NCAA swimmers. Babashoff, however, fell victim to the GDR's Petra Thümer, who upset her in the 400 and 800 free, beating her at her own negative-split game. Entered in seven Olympic events, Babashoff won three silvers and a relay gold but not the individual gold she wanted. In her disappointment she bad-mouthed the East Germans and refused to congratulate them, so distressing U.S. swim officials that they sent GDR star Kornelia Ender a dozen roses by way of apology.

"Shirley would have done better in the 400 and 800 if she hadn't been training for those other events," Schubert says today, "but how could you know at the time? She was confident and enthusiastic and you hate to discourage that in an athlete." Schubert will not comment on Babashoff's lack of sportsmanship in Montreal but he is known to have been pained by it. Yet he apparently never suggested to her that she might consider congratulating the East Germans.

Babashoff retired in January 1977, and Schubert feels that the Nadadores have since matured as a club. "We were always identified with Shirley," he explains. "When she left, some of the other kids realized they could win, too."

Schubert's club works like an assembly line, with swimmers moving smartly through the ranks until the best of them reach the national team. The man who keeps things clicking farther down the line is the head age-group coach, Pat Burch, a moonlighting elementary-school teacher who shares Schubert's belief in discipline. One afternoon while overseeing 50 swimmers, mostly 11- and 12-year-olds, at the eight-lane Sierra pool, Burch hauled three of them out of the pool in the space of 10 minutes, a girl for malingering and two boys for getting into a shoving match while swimming laps. "With this many kids, you've got to rule with an iron fist," Burch said, sighing, when the session was over.

Schubert is sometimes accused of recruiting swimmers, but the truth is that he doesn't need to recruit. The swimmers come to him, propelled by the same impulse that sends aspiring actors to New York and true believers to Lourdes. The newcomers include prospects from two dozen or so families a year that move to Mission Viejo strictly for swimming. It often means that dad has to quit his job and find a new one, but this seems to be the least a loving parent can do to help the little gal or guy lower that 100 backstroke time. "Swim families come in here all the time," says Bruce Smith, manager of one of Mission Viejo's Century 21 Real Estate offices. "They're not interested in floor plans or prices. All they care about is whether the house is near the pool."

Then there are the older, usually more established, swimmers who arrive on their own. They either commute from nearby points à la Babashoff or board with local families and, at least in some cases, attend Mission Viejo High. Boarders shell out $200 a month in addition to their monthly dues of $25 (if a swimmer's family belongs to one of Mission Viejo's recreation centers, the dues are $15). Out of town swimmers also endure a great many hardships. Dawn Rodighiero, a breaststroker from Calumet City, Ill., settled in with a congenial Mission Viejo family only to find herself allergic to the dog; the dog stayed and Dawn moved in with another family. For Jesse Vassallo, who arrived from Puerto Rico by way of Miami, life was tough in Mission Viejo until his English improved, notwithstanding all those Spanish place names. And Jennifer Hooker remembers being homesick for a while after arriving in Mission Viejo from her native Bloomington, Ind.

Rachael Mudgett's arrival in Mission Viejo a month ago was another example of the type of culture shock a young swimmer faces.

There she was, a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Minnesota, clad in sweats and standing on the deck of an unfamiliar pool. She had arrived from Minneapolis just the night before, yet she had already finished her first workout with the Nadadores. Or rather, she had finished part of that first workout.

"Mark allowed me to quit early," Rachael explained. "At home we do a lot less yardage and I'm not used to all the work they do here. And just look at all these great swimmers." She cast an anxious glance at the Olympians, American record holders and national champions who were churning through the water in front of her.

Rachael brightened a moment later. "It's my first trip to California," she said. "On the flight I was worried that nobody would be there to meet me in Los Angeles. But one of the coaches was waiting at the airport. He was wearing a shirt with MISSION VIEJO on it. Was I ever relieved to see him." Now her brown eyes were flashing. "I'm a backstroker and at home I was doing pretty well. But this is where you come to get really good. That's why I'm here. To get good."

As it turned out, Rachael decided to go back to Minnesota where swimming wouldn't dominate her every moment.

Mark Schubert's arduous workouts remain the biggest burden for any newcomer. "Swimming in Mission Viejo is like taking medicine," says Australia's Tonelli, who trains with the Nadadores during vacations from Alabama. "You may not like it, but it's good for you."

Goodell expressed a similar sentiment one recent evening. Another workout was over and he had taken his dog Patches for a walk in the woods behind his house, a two-story dwelling with a basket over the garage door and scaffolding set up for an imminent paint job.

"When Mark came here nobody in the club liked him," Goodell said. "He was always yelling. But he kind of grows on you. Besides, he got the best out of us. Mark runs the toughest program in the country and sometimes I ask myself if it's worth it. But I like to win and that's what it takes."

Schubert can still be brusque. Obsessed as always with the success of the GDR women, he reacts to the incessant jurisdictional disputes in U.S. amateur sports, to horseplay in the weight room and to whatever else vexes him by saying sharply, "You won't see the East Germans doing that." Before meets, he has removed the mouthpieces from phones in his swimmers' hotel rooms to keep them from gabbing. He strikes terror in the tenderhearted. "It's the way Mark looks at you that's scary," Dawn Rodighiero says, shuddering.

When the spirit moves him, Schubert also knows how to please. He sometimes lets swimmers frolic with fins during workouts and rewards honest effort with "get-out" days on which everyone goes home early. He runs swimmers—and sometimes their parents—through positive-image psychology classes that emphasize the importance of goal-setting and the visualizing of objectives. "The idea is that expectations have a lot to do with results, which I think is true," Schubert says. And he somehow minimizes the friction that unavoidably arises from so many gifted swimmers being in the same waters. "I want my kids to challenge each other. But if they challenge each other too much, I try to emphasize the team aspect." It is Schubert himself who usually leads the cheers at meets.

And he may be mellowing. He sometimes winks at tardiness nowadays and he jokes around a bit more on the pool deck. Certainly he has won over most of Mission Viejo's once hostile swim parents. From poolside, women with stopwatches can occasionally be seen lurking behind bushes, but these "shark mothers," as coaches call them, are the exceptions. "Parents shouldn't worry whether their kid's arm is crooked in the water," says Guy Barnicoat, whose children Cheryl and Steve are on Schubert's national team. "They should work behind the scenes setting up meets." Barnicoat, an aerospace engineering manager, does his part as the AAU national age-group chairman, as a PA announcer at major championships and as meet director for many of the swim events held in Mission Viejo.

Not everyone in Mission Viejo is quite as enthusiastic, of course. Motorists keep grumbling about traffic congestion caused by swim meets, and there are teachers at Mission Viejo High who complain that swimmers miss too many classes because of trips. The school administration is behind Schubert on this issue. "A teacher will say, 'Gee, this swimmer is missing my world cultures class,' " scoffs Assistant Principal Bruce Taschner. "I'll say, 'World cultures class? The kid's going to Russia.' " It may or may not comfort these teachers that the school's boys' and girls' swim teams, made up mostly of Nadadores, have won Swimming World magazine's mythical national high school championship the last two years.

The Mission Viejo Company? Its officials seem quite satisfied at how nicely Mark Schubert and the Nadadores have done. Anything that draws home-buying newcomers to town is naturally fine with them and the publicity generated by the swim team also has prompted the town brass, their appetites whetted, to host those TV trashsport shows like Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes. Though the tie-in between tobacco and teen-age swimmers seems slightly awkward, the parent Philip Morris Inc. has publicity men hovering about at most big Mission Viejo events.

"We programmed an involvement in family-oriented swimming, not Olympic swimming," says Phil Reilly, president of the Mission Viejo Company, whose sons Kevin and Sean were original members of the Nadadores. "But now we have both. Swimming has become a very important amenity here."

Just how important was evident when officials of Reilly's firm met with coaches and parents to make arrangements for another of the swim meets regularly held at Mission Viejo. One problem that came under discussion was the need for three typists to update heat sheets during the meet.

"We could hire Kelly Girls," somebody suggested.

"Oh, no," another fellow replied, genuinely aghast. "We need somebody from the community, somebody with esprit."

And so it was that when the meet began, three women from Mission Viejo, presumably checked thoroughly and cleared for esprit, sat at a long table typing up heat sheets.

Inspired by Mission Viejo's example, rival swim clubs have been putting the arm on businesses for greater financial support. While there is not yet any U.S. Steel Floating Ingot Club around to give the East Germans pause, it was surely a sign of the ante being raised in American club coaching when John E. Dupont III, whose 50-meter indoor pool in suburban Philadelphia is used by the Foxcatcher swim club, recently hired UCLA's George Haines as the club's new coach at a reported annual salary of $75,000. Other coaches have followed Schubert's lead in embracing weight training for women, negative-split pacing, blood testing and positive-image psychology. All of which prompts University of Alabama's Coach Don Gambril to say, "Mark's probably done more for a man his age than anybody else ever involved in the sport."

Schubert also comes in for a certain amount of static. Detractors point out, accurately enough, that he emphasizes conditioning more than technique, freestyle more than other strokes. They question why anybody should be so chummy with the Russians in one of the few sports in which the U.S. is still No. 1. And doesn't Schubert admire the East Germans a bit too much? Schubert also gets criticized for training foreigners who might, and sometimes do, beat American swimmers. He answers, characteristically, "Anything I do to get better swimmers into my program can only make the program better."

At issue, too, is Schubert's training regimen, which at one point last year amounted to 24,000 meters—or nearly 15 miles—a day. Schubert defends this workload by noting that his broad-based program tends to attract younger, high-school-age swimmers. "With younger kids, this kind of foundation is important," he says. "Swimming is an endurance sport and it's necessary to build cardiovascular stamina."

One who strongly disagrees is Dick Jochums, the coach at Long Beach State and at the Beach Swim Club. Jochums, who will become the University of Arizona's coach in September, holds daily workouts to 14,000 meters and eschews weights. He coaches Sullivan Award winner Tim Shaw and Olympic gold medalist Bruce Furniss, who joined the Long Beach club after fleeing the Nadadores. "Mark's kids are going to burn themselves out the way he's working them," warns Jochums. "You can't just keep doing more, more, more. There's such a thing as specificity of training, and such a thing as sprint training, which Mark ignores. We have to find easier ways of doing things in this country."

Babashoff thrived on Schubert's workouts (even in defeat at Montreal, her 400 and 800 times were her best ever) and so, of course, has Goodell, whose recent triumphs have come at the expense of, among others, Jochums' protègè Shaw. Yet in the last few months two other Mission Viejo Olympians, Nicole Kramer and Casey Converse, have dropped out of swimming, complaining they lost interest. Nicole had just turned 16 and Converse was all of 20. There also is the case of Australian distance star Tracey Wickham, who trained under Schubert for seven months last year without improving her times. She returned home in December and two months later broke countrywoman Michelle Ford's world record in the 800 and Browne's in the 1,500. While Wickham no doubt benefited from the kind of foundation Schubert likes to talk about, some Nadadores speculate whether she might also have prospered with a little more rest than she was allowed in Mission Viejo.

The charge is that Schubert is doing what amounts to aquatic strip mining, extracting nuggets like Babashoff and Goodell while laying waste the rest of the mountainside. Last April Tracy Caulkins, the U.S.' current one-woman gang, broke five American records to lead the Nashville Aquatics women to a 441-425 upset of Mission Viejo at the AAU short-course nationals in Austin, snapping the Nadadores women's win streak at seven. Caulkins trains shorter distances than Mission Viejo women, as does Cynthia Woodhead, the 14-year-old Riverside, Calif. distance swimmer who won the 500 and 1,650 in Austin. Mission Viejo's men swam well enough to give the Nadadores the overall team title even though some of the key women were ill. But several of the women were overweight and Schubert angrily banned Browne, Hooker and a couple of others until they had shed some pounds.

The banished swimmers dieted away the extra weight, griping the whole time. Browne was the last one to return. On the afternoon she came back, she sat at poolside and gazed in the general direction of the candy machine across the way. "It's weird how Mark handled this," she said. "Like how are you supposed to lose weight if you don't work out?" Confessing to a general weariness, she said, "There's a lot of pressure on you here. You have to keep up your reputation. Every workout is like a race."

Dick Jochums interpreted the weight problems as a sign that the Nadadores women were rebelling against Schubert's demanding workouts. Without admitting it, Schubert may have agreed. While enforcing the Great Bonbon Freeze, he also cut workouts down to the 20,000-meters-a-day level he maintained before the Olympics. "It's not a change in philosophy," he insisted. "Dick gets away with less yardage because he has older kids. What's changed for us is that our kids are getting older and we're taking in more college-age swimmers. So I'm becoming a little more specific in my training. But I still say it's not hard work that burns you out. It's losing."

The upcoming AAU meet will reveal whether Schubert's women can bounce back. Another uncertainty has to do with the fact that club coaching is a young man's game. The hours are long, the training year-round and the kids too numerous. Most good club coaches gravitate to college jobs, which is where you find the likes of Indiana's Doc Counsilman, USC's Peter Daland and Tennessee's Ray Bussard. Significantly, Schubert merely says that he has the best club situation in swimming and he showed some brief interest in a recent opening at the University of Texas, which was filled instead by Auburn's Eddie Reese. He also has been mentioned for the UCLA job, so he may not be around Mission Viejo forever.

At least for now, though, Schubert's heart belongs to the Nadadores. He is plotting a team trip to Japan and has invited the Soviet national team to visit Mission Viejo again in December. He had hoped to experiment this season with a lactic acid testing program purportedly used by East Germany, but shelved it for want of a $35,000 piece of blood-analyzing equipment. But he says, "I still hope to try it soon." Last summer Schubert was the only club coach to tag along on the dual-meet trips to East Germany and Russia. On the all-night flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, as U.S. swimmers and the official team coaches slept, only one person in the packed cabin had his overhead light on. It was Schubert, poring over meet results. The light stayed on all night.

PHOTOJOHN G. ZIMMERMANThe 50-meter pool at the International Swim Complex is Mission Viejo's busy centerpiece.PHOTOJOHN G. ZIMMERMANBrian Goodell started at Mission Viejo when he was nine, went on to become a gold medalist at Montreal and appears headed for greater glory in Moscow.PHOTOJOHN G. ZIMMERMANMission Viejo's coach is Mark Schubert, 29, whose methods have been praised and criticized.PHOTOJOHN G. ZIMMERMANJenni Chandler had the golden touch in Montreal and fellow diver Greg Louganis won a silver medal.