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L E’s Stories – Salute To Doug Russell: The Man Who Beat Swimming Phenom Mark Spitz To Gold In The 100m Butterfly

Writing this story brings a great deal of joy to this lil ole chiweenie Sportsphile….cuz it’s about a man who Bone Daddy has known since his youth…..which was a long time ago now in 2020 since the story starts in 1959….when they were competitors as opposing quarterbacks for Bone Daddy for San Jacinto Jr High Mustangs….and was playing Doug Russell for Austin Jr High Ranglers in the Midland 7th Grade City Championship football game. Now, our QB Bone Daddy was leading his undefeated Mustangs into the championship game…..while QB Doug Russell, along with RB Ramon Reyes, were considered the best players in the entire Midland, Texas Jr. High School program….as Russell was a lanky long legged 13 year old….who ate up lots of yardage on simple sweeps to the left and right…..as he literally led and carried his Wranglers to a 6 win and 1 loss record coming into the championship….albeit the loss was to Bone Daddy’s Mustangs…..whereas, Bone Daddy was a “slow-footed” stout medium sized QB that was an accurate passer who could block extremely well….which went well for Power Sweep Right and Power Sweep Left…..cuz Bone Daddy had FB Ross Montgomery, who went on to play for the Chicago Bears, and HB Mike Lindsey, who was an All City….so, blocking for these guys was a huge asset for the team’s offense.

After the game while shaking hands with winning QB Doug Russell by Bone Daddy, he asked Russell if he liked playing basketball….and that is when Doug joined the 1st Baptist Church team…..which Pops coached…..and Doug and Bone Daddy became the forwards on the 1959 Church League Championship team….which started a friendship which carried through when Doug Russell and Bone Daddy were starting forwards of the 1965 Midland High School basketball team…..while Doug was a Texas State Swimming Champion…..so, any way you cut the pie…..this story is special….especially because Doug Russell goes on to win 2 gold medals at the 1968 Mexico Olympics in the Men’s 100m Butterfly and the Men’s 4 x 100m Medlay Relay….in which Doug’s USA relay swim team set a world record. Simply put, this story is a tribute to truly great athlete and good friend of Bone Daddy….the original Sportsphile.

Swimming -1965 To 1968 – Phi Delta Theta Sports Hall Of Fame Highlights – The University Career of Doug Russell

 

Doug Russell  is an American former competitive swimmer, Olympic champion and former world record-holder in three different events…..who was born in New York City and raised in Midland, Texas. He began swimming in high school for Midland High School….while swimming in the new 50-meter “Alamo” pool built by the city in 1962…..which was later renamed in his honor as the “Douglas Russell Swimming Pool.”  He was an all-around swimmer in high school…..while swimming competitively in butterfly, backstroke and individual medley events. Other school swimmers of the era remember him as a tough competitor who was hard to beat but who brought out the best in swimmers around him…..which is how Bone Daddy has always describe him.

He attended The University of Texas at Arlington….where he swam for coach Don Easterling’s UT Arlington Mavericks swimming and diving team in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition.  At the 1967 Pan American Games, he won a gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley. He also won an NCAA national championship in the 100-yard butterfly in 1968….as well as an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national outdoor title in the 100-meter butterfly.

Olympics – 1968 – Mexico City Games Highlights – Featuring USA Doug Russell Winning Gold In 100m Butterfly

 

At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Russell won the first-ever gold medal awarded in the men’s 100-meter butterfly—an event which made its debut at the 1968 Olympics–in an upset over teammate and favorite Mark Spitz. He won another gold medal swimming the butterfly leg for the winning U.S. team in the 4×100-meter medley relay. Russell, together with relay teammates Charlie Hickcox (backstroke), Don McKenzie (breaststroke), and Ken Walsh (freestyle), set a new world record of 3:54.9 in the event final.

Russell was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an “Honor Swimmer” in 1985.  He remains involved in swimming as the head coach of the Austin Trinity Aquatic Club.  Doug Russell Park, part of the southern edge of the UT Arlington campus, is named in his honor.

Olympics – 1972 -Munich Summer Games – Men’s Swimming Film – Under The Shadow Of Mark Spitz

 

Bone Daddy says that Doug Russell wasn’t a competitive swimmer until he got to Midland High in 1961….so, for an athlete who played football and basketball throughout Jr. High School to begin competitive swimming in 1961 way out in West Texas…where there “ain’t no water”…..and few swimming pools….to start competing in 1961 and be a two time Olympic gold medalist by 1968….after beating the swimmer who was heavily favored in the 100m butterfly and considered an unbeatable “young phenom” for gold was truly an exceptional feat….especially when the “young phenom” was swimming and Olympic swimming legend Mark Spitz….who would go on to win 7 gold medals, all in record time, at the 1972 Munich Summer Games.

Doug Russell’s accomplishment of beating Mark Spitz in the Olympic 100m butterfly swimming event is an epic achievement of the highest order….which is worthy of his L E’s Story here at ImaSportsphile….as Bone Daddy was overjoyed to see this post….cuz it brought back so many wonderful memories of the two playing so many pick-up games with Pops and Los Tres Amigos.

Swimming – 2018 – Cell Video – Swimming At Midland’s Doug Russell Public Swimming Pool With A Texas Family

   

 

 

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