57 Years After Breaking WR, Jeff Farrell Does it Again – Masters Style

by Spencer Penland 23

January 02nd, 2018 Masters, News, Records

In 1960, Jeff Farrell became a swimming legend when he overcame an emergency appendectomy just 6 days before the Olympic Trials to qualify for the Rome Olympics and subsequently win multiple Golds and break several world records. He went on to break a combined 23 American and World Records within the year following his appendectomy. Farrell competed collegiately for Oklahoma and trained with the Navy program at Yale leading up to the 1960 Olympics.

Today, Farrell is 80 years old and competing at the Masters level. In mid-December, Farrell broke another world record, this time in the SCM 50 free for the 80-84 age group. His time of 31.25 broke the previous record of 31.74 by nearly half a second.

Farrell began swimming Masters in 1980, and over that time he has broken a number of American Records and consistently sat at the top of his age groups. Arguably the most impressive aspect of his ability to stay a world class swimmer over the course of nearly 60 years is that he’s managed to keep up with the seemingly ever-changing rules. The sport was dramatically different back when Farrell set his first world record – from huge things like the fact that swimmers didn’t where goggles back in 1960 to all the incremental mechanics changes that have occurred since then. Farrell has managed to stay at the top through all of that.

Jeff Farrell wrote an autobiography detailing his tumultuous experience at the 1960 Olympic Trials and Games called “My Olympic Story”.

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sane swim parent

Dang! I’m half his age, and not sure I could do that now.


That is so fast for almost any one, but an 80 year old?!! I wish more aging Olympians would swim Masters.


Ehhhhhh maybe the average person who never swam a day in their life. However at his age that is an insane swim


So unbelievably wrong. Talk about “living in a bubble.”


Um, only half right. The “average person who never swam a day” could not get close to that time. For some perspective: In 2016 it would have placed top-10 for a guy 10 years younger or a woman 20 years younger. It would be ranked “BB” for any man over 30, “A” for any man over 55, “AA” for any man over 60, “AAA” for any man over 65, and “AAAA” for any man over 70. Another way of looking at it; in USAS it would be a “BB” time for girls of all ages and guys up to age 14. Non-swimmers, even recreational swimmers do not punch “BB” times. “Insane” for his age is correct. This is 1.55 s… Read more »

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