By Rick Remmert
March 23, 1976
For the women’s swim team, the time to savor their back-to-back national championships is not today, tomorrow or even the next day, but perhaps 10 years from now. When skin suits no longer have appeal, goggles are gone and tapering is tossed aside, the consecutive championships will remain.
For all time, national championships are forever.
Just as time has ways of healing all wounds, so also it has ways of enhancing memories. Today’s happenings are tomorrow’s history, but little do we realize it at the time. Nor take any action to preserve things we cherish.
Then, suddenly, the moment is gone. And with it, so goes the exquisite thrill of triumph, the incredible ecstasy of meeting and defeating a long-standing challenge, of being victorious amidst worthy challengers. The moment is here… and gone. Never to return. Nothing can bring it back. But the memories will linger on for eternity. No one can deny memories for they live on within us all, are unto us as individuals.
And for the women swimmers, what memories they have to cherish. For openers, think of how many teams there are in the nation and how many never even come close to winning a championship.
Then think of the UM gals, who not only won one title, but took two in successive years. To win once is fantastic. To repeat, incredible.
Not enough can be said of the girls and their coaches, head man Charlie Hodgson and diving mentor Tom Gompf. The record is testimonial to their greatness. None can argue with the record.
For Pat Hines, “Mother Hen” to “Charlie’s Chicks,” there will be no more painted fingernails and oranges in the pool. Hines is a senior and her Miami career is over. But the impact she had in holding the team together won’t soon be forgotten.
For the so-called “stars” of the team, although on a national championship squad, all team members are stars, and rightfully so, it’s right back into the untroubled waters for more workouts leading up to the AAU Nationals the first week of next month.
And after that, more workouts in preparation for the Olympic trials and, hopefully, more workouts after the in preparation for the Olympiad at Montreal. No fewer than seven girls will be Olympic hopefuls from four nations.
From Jamaica, that land’s finest female, Belinda Phillips. From Scotland, the sometimes undecipherable Sandra Dickie. From Canada, the lilting Sylvie Deschamps. And from the United States, diver Melissa Briley and swimmers J.B. Buchanan, Robin Brannman and Leesa Sward.
As for the rest of the team members, with either little desire or not quite enough raw physical tools for Olympic competition, it’s some welcome time off from morning workouts and a chance to visit the pool in the afternoon to soak up some sun instead of cranking out lap after lap after lap.
For Dawn Frady, Jodi Yambor, Debbie Grafentin, Pam Kirk, Denise Wrist, Barb Foulke and Sharon Berg, it’s time to relax and take things a little easier for a while. The same can be said for Jane O’Keefee, Judy Schaeffer, Debbie Massie, Jan Michaelis and Ruth Ann McFarlane.
The team was vibrant, full of life and down to earth. The girls talented and skilled, but at the same time, humble. The coach quiet, reserved, candid and knowledgeable.
Put them together and they spell greatness– a phenomenal national championship team. A diverse collection of raw skill complemented by fascinating personalities.
Nothing like ‘em ever was. Or will be.
Thanks, girls, for the memories. For memories, just like national championships, are forever.
Rick Remmert was the sports editor for The Miami Hurricane in 1976.