John Kinsella, arguably the most dominant swimmer on the professional marathon swimming circuit, knew who he could count on during his professional marathon swimming career. Coach Don Watson helped prepare him for an unprecedented career while his Hinsdale teammate, Sandra Bucha, helped him when cold became an issue.
At the 1974 24 Heures La Tuque race in Quebec, Canada, John who was called The Machine by his colleagues, was getting cold during the night over the 24-hour two-person relay race. His choice in a teammate could not be better.
The much lighter and smaller Sandra Bucha, the only woman among the top four teams, swam 100 laps to John’s 94 as they set the world record of 194 laps or almost 65 miles total during the 24-hour endurance race in Lac Louis. Sandra told Sports Illustrated Magazine that her ability to keep going had physiological reasons. “It’s my layer of fat,” although the reporter insisted that fat was nowhere to be seen on the former sprinter.
As the top male professional marathon swimmers were fading as the night went on, Sandra not only kept pace, but rather kept getting stronger. Her father and trainer Colonel Paul Bucha told Sports Illustrated, “She feels better now [at 2 a.m.] than she did six hours ago.” By 5 a.m., 14 hours after the start, Sandra felt good and explained why, “You look at the sky and get energy.”
As his mood and skin were simultaneously turning blue, John was also hurting with a pulled tendon into the 16th hour of the race. Advised to slow down and that his team would still win, John replied, “It still hurts. Sandra really came through when I needed her and I did not want to let her down. Not that I was thinking of dropping out, though. I was in too much pain to think about it.”
Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source