Nice Guys Finish First, The Venerable Murray Rose

Nice Guys Finish First, The Venerable Murray Rose

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Murray Rose was one of the shining lights of swimming. After his death from leukemia on Sunday, his star will forever burn bright among his countrymen, in the aquatic community and with everyone who had the good fortunate to cross his cheerful path.

From his Olympic victories at the age of 17 at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics to his statesman status in the 21st century, Murray was the epitome of a gentleman and competitor.

His stories and training behind his 4 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze medals in 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games were legendary and he continued to build upon his sterling reputation with charisma and passion. In the long great history of Australian freestylers, the man of the world stood out among pool swimmers Dawn Fraser, Shane Gould, Kieren Perkins, Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett, and open water swimmers Des Redford, Susie Maroney, Shelley Taylor-Smith, Melissa Cunningham and Ky Hurst.

Among the that Rose could command the attention of people of all ages and backgrounds with his many illustrious and entertaining stories from his athletic, broadcasting and professional careers. From his vegetarian-generated nickname, the Seaweed Streak, to his competitive drive against all-comers, he was as unique as his diet: no meat, fish, poultry, refined flour, sugar, chemical-infused foods, but plenty of seaweed, honey and wheat-germ.

Although hydration is now considered a vital part of athletic performance and physical health by coaches, athletes and trainers, it was apparently not always so.

While marathon swimmers used to drink no more frequently than once per hour…and sometimes even significantly less than that. “We had some swimmers who crossed the Catalina Channel with only two feeds,” recalled fellow Hall of Famer Penny Dean. But Murray tells of even more drastic dehydration among the swimmers of his day:

We used to purposefully not drink anything before a competition. I remember being so thirsty before a competition. My lips were parched. It took great discipline to become so dehydrated. When we dove in the water, the water on our lips tasted so sweet.”

And so he was: a man whose larger-than-life presence was as sweet as water on the lips of a dehydrated athlete.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones