It's difficult to tell who is happier, the pupil or
The teacher is swimming coach John Wieck of Birmingham
Groves. The pupil
is swimmer Fred Savinsky of Warren.
Wieck, 40, is the highly successful coach who guided
Groves to the state
Class A championship last spring and then headed the U.S. team during
as it swamped opposition from 33 other countries in the World Deaf
in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
And spearheading the triumphant swimming team was
Savinsky, who turned
in a performance that will never be topped, perhaps never equaled.
Simply put, Savinsky, 20, a protégé of Wieck's was
He batted 1.000. In five events, three individual and two relays-the
an individual could enter - Savinsky came up with five gold medals, an
unheard of feat for the Games which originated in 1924.
That wasn't all. Savinsky set records in his three
and set the pace in lowering the records in both relays.
Savinsky's performance helped the U.S. team pick up
gold medals in 11
of the 27 swimming events.
"He said back in June that he would work hard and get
Wieck recalled. "It sounded like an idle boast at the time."
"He worked hard, but at that time, even I didn't
really believe he could
do that. The events were different strokes - butterfly and freestyle -
and he wasn't a freestyler, at least not a freestyle sprinter until he
went over there."
The 100-meter freestyle was first. What made
Savinsky's talk about five
medals seem more ridiculous was that in the heat before he swam a
broke the record. But Savinsky proceeded to post a 59.4 time, two
better than the Russian.
Then the 400-meter freestyle. He chopped 10 seconds
off that with a
4:45 time. Then the 200-meter butterfly in which he posted a 2:27.5 to
crack his own world record of 2:30.2. In the 800-meter freestyle relay,
the record was lowered 20 seconds to 9:14.4, and in the 400-meter
it was reduced seven seconds to 4:43.6.
"I thought before the events he would have a chance in
the 400," said
Wieck. "But deep down, I didn't believe
||he did in the 100...and then after the
the record, I didn't think Fred could do it. "
Oh, I was happy," said Wieck. "It was very
gratifying. Fred was more
elated than I had ever seen him. When it was over I asked him if all
hard work was worth it."
The hard work started last June for both teacher and
pupil. For 28 days
in a row, Wieck drove to Warren, picked up Savinsky and headed for the
50-meter pool at Metropolitan Beach. That meant Wieck had to be
at 5 a.m. or thereabouts, get Savinsky through his paces and get back
time to go to work at a summer swimming job in Birmingham.
After that, there was training in White Plains, N.Y.,
and then the trip
to Europe and the Games.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Alex Savinsky of Warren, Fred lost
his hearing when
he was five weeks old, the result of an infection that destroyed nerve
endings in his ears.
But Savinsky has overcome the handicap, evidence of
which is his 3.5
grade point average at Ferris Institute where he competes with students
who are normal. He has completed two years at Ferris, studying to be a
He's learning to talk and doing remarkably well. He
and Wieck have no
communication problem. "I understand practically everything he says,"
Savinsky says he is through with swimming but Wieck
isn't sure. Wieck
will probably be asked to take the coaching post again for the 1973
in either Prague, Switzerland, or Florence, Italy, and he's indicated
accept if the offer made.
"Chances are I'll be named and I'll accept," said
Wieck. "I'll have
to try and talk him out of retirement. I think I can, at least for the
butterfly and the two relays. He had a burning desire to win those five
medals. I just have to convince him that he could help his
Savinsky and Wieck crossed paths about six years ago
when Wieck was
coach at Warren Fitzgerald. Living in Detroit at the time, Savinsky
to Warren regularly to work under Wieck.
The Savinskys later moved to Warren and the young
swimmer gained his
first major title by winning the 1966 state butterfly.