During the year leading up to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Australian Shane Gould broke every Freestyle World Record from the 100 to the 1500 meters. Amazing. At the Games themselves, she would go on to win three golds, a silver and a bronze medal. Spectacular. All this at the ripe young age of 15.
Though her Olympic accomplishments were overshadowed by those of Mark Spitz, much the same as Natalie Coughlin’s outstanding 6 medal swims were outshone by Michael Phelps performance this past summer, Gould was, indeed, the female aquatic star of those ’72 Games. Had she kept swimming, perhaps for another four years and another Olympics, who knows how much more she could have accomplished in the water?
In reality, after this meteoric rise from a 13-year-old age grouper to Olympic champion, Gould would almost as quickly disappear from the international swim scene to get married, begin a family and live on a farm in Margaret River in Western Australia far from even a neighborhood swimming pool.
Tumble Turns is the story of not only Shane Gould the swimmer, but that of Shane Gould the person making sense of all that life has held for her, including her share of challenges — and living it to its fullest.
In the final paragraphs of the 1st edition in 1999, Gould writes, “My life has seen me through many tumble turns: leaving Australia at three and returning at nine; fitting into nine different schools; becoming an Olympian; escaping from being an Olympian; joining a Christian community; marrying at 18; mothering at 21; living an ‘alternative lifestyle’ in voluntary poverty; learning farm skills; awakening to my denial of ‘Shane Gould, the Swimmer’; researching sport retirement; experiencing depression; separating from my husband; attending the Life Mastery course; becoming a natural horsemanship instructor; divorcing; re-skilling myself for the commercial world; and getting back to into age-group swimming.”
She further writes, “During some of these tumble turns it felt as if life was flipping me over. In others, I deliberately took the turn that set me on to a new path. I am grateful for all my tumble turns. They have shown me that I am not just an accumulation of accomplishments and achievements. Rather than what I’ve done, it is who I have become in the process.”
In the updated edition, Gould shares of her involvement in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, what has become of her four children from her first marriage and her new-found involvement in the world of swimming including meeting an American coaching consultant who helped her reinvent herself as a Masters swimmer.
They have since married and spend much of the year traveling, speaking and doing clinics around the world.
Gould’s honesty, transparency and straight-forward writing style makes this a must-read not only for anyone wanting to know ‘what happened to Shane Gould?’ but also for any athlete going forward with life after competition. She is truly an inspiration.
I further recommend checking out Shane’s Web site at www.shanegould.com.au