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”.