Saturday, April 21, 2007

Day Two SPMA Regionals: A very eventful day

UPDATE: William Patrick (Parry) O'Brien passed away at the SPMA Regional meet yesterday. As a witness to his passing I can say he is sorely missed.

William Patrick (Parry) O'Brien is an Olympian who competed in four consecutive summer Olympics. His event was the shot put where he won two consecutive gold medals in 1952 and 1956, a silver in 1960, and he placed fourth in 1964. As a result of his contribution to US Track and Field he was inducted to the US Olympic Hall of Fame.

But Parry loves swimming just as much.

In the middle-eighties here was a guy with stacks of trophies, gold medals and a silver who discovered Masters swimming and began swimming regularly. Clay Evans told me that during a meet at Santa Monica College in or around that decade he saw Parry standing in line to collect a 6th place, cheesy, SPMA, ribbon to add to his collection because swimming meant so much to him. Parry swims open water, swim meets, workouts, everything and everywhere.

Today during the 500 free Parry came out of a flip-turn in or around the 200 yard mark and lost consciousness. For what seemed like 20 minutes or so; (I want to emphasize that it seemed that long since time dilates during a tragedy), lifeguards were administering CPR to revive him without pause. Then the paramedics came, added an IV line and spent another 5-10 minutes doing the same compression pumps to his chest. Soon the defibrillator was brought out and it was nothing like what you see on TV where the patient jerks. It was much more graphic and unpleasant to see and it certainly looks like no fun to go through.

I don't know what happened after they took Parry to the hospital, the meet was stopped for perhaps 1-2 hours, but later resumed because Parry would have been pissed if it stopped.

My times were mixed: 26.87 for the 50 free, 35.99 for the 50 fly. Tomorrow I try and break a minute in the 100 free. I will post pictures once the shell shock wears off.


don said...

As a young boy growing up in Eugene, i was witness to many great O'brien moments--he was revered in the track and field community there--and is still remembered by many-it is with great saddness that I see that he has passed, but it is also much to my delight that I am finding out that he shared a passion of mine--masters swimming---what an amazing man to have competed at such a high level at two totally different athletic endeavors---I have fond memories of a great sportsman and a genuine role model to those of us lucky enough to watch him throw the 'shot'

Tony Austin said...

WOW! I read that he was the first person to put the ball in motion by spinning around before throwing it.

He did the physics research on it and found that a body in motion or a body that had early momentum would launch farther. So not only did he launch the shot farther but he contributed something to the sport never seen before.