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W.A. swimmer Garrick Agnew is well at Ohio State University
TO Garrick Agnew, State, Australian
Olympic and Empire Games swim- mer, determined perseverance in the face of many difficulties and disappointments brought its reward in his admission by Fellowship to the State university of Ohio, U.S.A., this year. This university, located in the City of Columbus, is rated academically among the first three or four in the United States and on its sporting side boasts of the leading swimming and diving team in America. During the past 11 years its teams have won 63 out of a possible 76 U.S.A. national and collegiate championships and for the past two years have won
There, with gymnasiums, swimming pools and ihe best of equipment within the University. Agnew will be able to continue his swimming to- gether with his studies in a manner that would be impossible in Australia. His coaching will be under the supervision of Mike Peppe, a Master of Physical Education, who ranks with Bob Kip huth, of Yale University, as one of the bes» coaches in the world today.
CAUGHT and trained first by his grandfather
(Mr. R. Agnew) and later by Mr. Harry Hay, of Sydney, Agnew commenced his swim- ming career in the open-water baths of the Swan River and established himself as W.A.'s No 1 swimmer at an early age. He represented this State annually in the National Championships from 1945 onwards, travelled to London in 1948 as a member of the Australian Olympic Team and to New Zealand with the Empire Games
Team in 1949.
When Agnew failed to produce his Australian form at the Olympic Games and put up only a mediocre performance at the following National Championships in Brisbane, there were many who said that he had had his day as a swimmer. But Agnew, though disappointed, was not ' beaten. Careful analysis of his training diary prior to the
Olympic Games pointed the clue to his failure. Training in Melbourne away from the supervision of his own coach, misdirected enthusiasm led him into swimming upwards of five miles a day. In the light of subsequent events, it seemed evident that this training had been far too much for his state of physical development at the time, and that, as a result, he was temporarily burnt out
betöre he left Australia. Guided by this con- clusion and the wise counsel of his coach, Agnew relaxed, went to the surf and forgot about com- petitive swimming for several months.
The benefit of this break became apparent when he showed a return to form in the follow- ing season.
At the Empire Games he reached a new level of performance, winning the 440yds. title in 4min. 49.4sec, clipping 5.2sec. off the previous record held by R. Pirie, of Canada. An error of judg- ment on the part of the selectors deprived him of another almost certain title and record in the 1,650yds. event, from which he was with- drawn in order to swim in the relay.
Returning to Australia, Agnew broke five Aus- tralian records, including three established by his contemporary Australian swimmer, John Marshall (now at Yale University ajid a world record holder). Back in W.A. after this trip, he unoffi- cially shattered four more Australian records in the State Championships.
Offer of Fellowship
JTOLLOWING this record-breaking performance,
Agnew received inquiries as to whether he would be interested in applying for admission to the State University of Ohio, U.S.A. Negotiations followed and a sound scholastic background, sup- ported by his swimming successes, brought to Agnew the offer of a Fellowship and part-time employment that wculd enable him to work his ' way through the University course.
Backed by the approval and goodwill of offi- cials in the Australian swimming world and by the University of W.A. on the academic side. Agnew accepted and set about the problem of getting to America. Finally good friends in Syd- ney arranged for him to work his passage on the Swedish freighter Parakoola. This was a dif- ferent proposition frqm the glamour of his team trips. Instead of the indolent ease of passenger life he accepted a paid job in the engine room and took his place as a member of the crew. The work was hard but it kept him fit and was good experience.
During the trip Agnew and another fellow passage-worker planned how they would hitch- hike the 2,500 miles from Vancouver, in Canada, to Columbus. On arrival at Vancouver, how- ever, an instruction awaited Agnew to report to a University representative in Seattle where ar- rangements would be made for him to fly to Columbus direct, instead of going by way of San Francisco as originally intended. Somewhat
disappointed that the adventure of hitch-hiking had to be abandoned; he made: his way by train to Seattle and thence by air to Columbus in a Boeing 75-seater Strato-cruiser. En routç they set down at Spokane, Minneapolis, Chicago and Dayton, allowing him brief glimpses of these
QN arrival, Agnew was met by his mentor, Mike
Peppe, through whom all negotiations and arrangements had been made. From the airport, he was taken via the university to the Sciota Club, the Country Club of Columbus,, where he was to work until the university opened about ten days later. Then followed a period crammed with new impressions and experiences; the ap- parent wealth of Columbus, the beauty of its public buildings, homes, streets and gardens, and above all, the friendliness and hospitality of its people, were refreshing to the young Australian.
Then came "rush," or "orientation" week as we know it here in our universities-meeting the staff and evaluating scholastic standing. Agnew deci- ded to enter the course for his B.Sc, majoring in industrial management, and to continue on for the additional degree of B.A.
On the residential student side came the hon- our of his election as one of 35 out of 5,000 new students for admission to the fraternity of Sigma Chi, the leading fraternity house of the univer- sity, and following this the further honour of election as vice-president of the Pledges, that is, of the new members of the fraternity.
Commenting on the American student life, Agnew was impressed with their intense activity and application to study, sport and the many or- ganisations within the university; with the high code of honour and conduct inculcated through the obligations, pledges and disciplinary measures of the fraternity. Referring to the American col- lege girls, he says, "I guess our girls at home are really just as pretty but here they seem to culti- vate glamour to the Nth degree. Walking down the campus a chap needs blinkers to keep his eyes fixed ahead."
Contrary to what might have been expected in the circumstances, Agnew found that the uni- versity places emphasis on a high scholastic standard before sport, and he has been advised to concentrate on his studies rather than his swim- ming for upwards of 12 months. At the end of that period, when he has attained residential status and adapted himself to the American way of life, he will be allowed to undergo hard train- ing and inter-collegiate competition. Evidence of his application to study is shown in the results of the mid-term examination in which, of, his three subjects, he topped his class in two and was second in the third.
Financed by Football
J-JEGARDING the university's facilities for
sport, he writes: "You will be interested to learn how the university finances its sporting ac- tivities, buildings, equipment, and Fellowships such as mine. Here football is a highly commercialised game in which the university fields one of the strongest teams in the States. Revenue from this source amounts to over 1,000, 000 dollars a year. Incidentally, the football coach, with a salary of 15,000 dollars, is the second-highest paid official on the university
Amonç those with whom Agnew will train at Ohio will be H. Kobiyoshi and T. Whiteleather (both of whom have registered 50.6sec* tor 100yds.), J. Taylor (who covered 1,500 metres in the near world-record time of 18min. 37sec. last year), and R. Cleaveland (who won the A.A.U. lloyds. nv.58.2sec). Next year they will be joined by Ford Konno, who skyrocketed into world class at the'.recent Tokyo* meet when he won the 1,500 metres, was second in the 800 metres and third in the 400 metres.
With all the facilities now available to him, it will be surprising if Agnew's swimming does not continue to improve. Whether he goes on to emulate John Marshall as a world record holder remains to be seen, but to those who have his best interests at heart, this seems relatively un- important. On times he is already in world class and the essential thing now, is that he justifies his Fellowship by a good standing in the uni- versity team and that he makes the most of the educational opportunities to prepare for his future