Watching USA Swimmer Michael Phelps win gold medals like John Corrar used to make jump-shots from the corner in Holy Name School yard brought back some serious memories of when I almost drowned as a five year -old in John Kelly’s pool.
It was a gorgeous summer day, the backyard was packed with people. Close to dinner time, everyone had gone in the house for some grub and for some strange reason I thought I was Johnny Weissmuller.
I lifted the inflated black tube from around my shoulders, tossed off the orange life preserve with those white tie strings and quicker than you can say, “GIMME A CONTAINER!” I sunk to the bottom!
All I recall is being pulled out of the pool and lying on the grass looking up at everyone, crying.
That horrific day ended any hopes I had of breaking Mark Spitz’s record of seven Gold medals in the 1972 olympics.
I recall the Ferro brothers from the neighborhood being very good swimmers. I believe it was the oldest Ferro, Billy who was a pretty good Water Polo player. It was normal seeing the Ferro twins John and Mark up in the schoolyard at night at a summer league game with blood-shot eyes and wet scraggly hair from being in the pool so much during the day. Kathy Cain, sister of John, Michael and Patty was a very good swim coach at Holy Name. I used to go down to St. Francis College on Friday nights as a kid to watch Holy Name swim team compete in meets.
Along comes Michael Phelps from Baltimore, Maryland to once again relive my nightmare.
Is this guy amazing or what?
The dude looks like a dolphin! (In the water of course)
Two years after I almost died, my aunt Helen’s boyfriend whom everyone called ‘Uncle Richie‘ taught a few of the kids (my cousins) how to swim up in Greenwood Lake at my Grandfather’s pool but being scarred by the drowning, I wouldn’t go near the water.
My phobia of the water kicked in and damaged my ability to master the art of swimming. I can’t even doggie paddle! (Actually, as a result of this horror, it led to my hesitancy of going to the beach later on in life)
It’s amazing but my nine year old daughter Taylor is a fantastic swimmer (Dara Torres, look out).
Tonight Phelps goes for Gold medal number eight.
I will watch closely with the wife and daughter just like last night and I will cheer for Phelps to break Spitz’s record
To this day I never learned how to swim.