Swimming From Home: Ray Looze on Best Comeback He’s Ever Seen

We are all trying to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic as best we can. Staying at home and not socializing is not an easy task for anyone, and keeping a swimmer out of the pool is equally antagonizing. Therefore, SwimSwam is starting the Swimming From Home Talk Show, where host Coleman Hodges speaks with the swimming community about how they’re coping with our current goggle-less reality.

Ray Looze has been in swimming for a long time, having done his collegiate time at University of Southern California and participating in the 1991 Pan American Games. Looze looks backs fondly on his 2 favorite swimming stories from his time competing: the first was winning 2nd place in the 400 IM at the NCAA Championships, making a 1-2 sweep in the event for USC. The other was at those 1991 Pan Am Games, when Cuban Mario Gonzalez made an extraordinary comeback to take gold in the 200 breast on his home turf over both American swimmers.

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2 years ago

Dara Torres. She retired from swimming after her third Olympics in 1992, comes back in 1999, makes the 2000 Olympic Team, breaks a slew of American records, and comes home with 5 Olympic medals. Retires again, comes back in 2007, breaks American records again, finishes .01 from gold in the 50 free at the 2008 Olympics, comes home with three silver medals at age 41. Comes back again after major knee surgery and at age 45, just misses making the 2012 Olympic team by a tenth of a second.

He Gets It Done Again
2 years ago

There were some extenuating circumstances for this one, so maybe it doesn’t count, but the craziest finish to a race I’ve ever seen was the 2014 ACC women’s champs 1650. Stephanie Peacock led Leah Smith by 7.6 seconds with 100 yards to go… Smith won the race by almost 4 seconds (!!!) I think Peacock had a medical issue at the end of the race which caused her to slow down. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I think she had to be helped off the pool deck. Maybe it shouldn’t count as a great comeback if your competition gets sick, but in terms of sheer amount of time made up, this was even more incredible than when Swanson… Read more »

He Said What?
2 years ago

After reading so many of the “Best Comeback” stories, which are phenomenal at best, I would love to read an article devoted to this very topic. Ray opened a can of worms with his story. Perhaps SwimSwam could ask the top swimmers what THEIR favorite “comeback” experience or story is? Something that inspired them to another level…… Anyway, just a thought.

Woke Stasi
2 years ago

Best comeback . . . by far: Pablo Morales!
Was co-favored with Germany’s Michael Gross to win gold in the 100 fly in LA in 1984. Gross won with Morales second. Morales dominated the event the next few years setting a WR of 52.86 at 1986 Worlds. Changed coaches in late 1987. Missed making the US Oly team in 1988 (finished 3rd). Quit swimming. Went to law school at Cornel. Heard the siren call to return to Stanford and coach Kenney in 1991. Made the 1992 US Oly team. Squeaked out a gold-medal winning victory in the 100 fly at Barcelona! Storybook ending!

Reply to  Woke Stasi
2 years ago

Best comeback I’ve watched was Anthony Ervin’s Olympic gold in the 50 free at Rio2016.
He had won the gold at Sydney 2000 at 19 and a few years later he retired from swimming and for many years he lived “dangerously”. So, returning to swimming and winning as a true underdog (the great favorite of that race was Manaudou) at 35, 16 years after Sydney, was an amazing comeback in many ways, also in the swimming phase after the dive.

He Said What?
2 years ago

I remember the Mario Gonzalez race. Pandemonium in the swim facility with Castro presenting the medals. Rare to see such dramatized national pride. Mario became a national hero that night and he was so young! He stood up to the pressure and came through by defeating the favored American swimmers. The last swimming celebration I remember which was at an equal level of excitement (for the fans in the stands), was Felipe Munoz at the 1968 Olympics, winning the same race in his home country of Mexico. Yes, a Boomers memories, but still valid nonetheless.

Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

My favorite comeback, though measured in a meter or less, was when Magnussen (who was known to be a back-half swimmer, not quite to the extent of Chalmers now, but close) came back on Adrian in the 100 free at London, and then Adrian pulled away again the last 15 meters.

2 years ago

Didn’t see that comeback, but I find it hard to believe any could have been better than the 2016 NCAA 1650 comeback by Chris Swanson of UPenn- epic in so many ways

Reply to  Gator
2 years ago

That was definitely the best mile race I had ever seen, and maybe one of the most fun races I have watched period.

Reply to  Gator
2 years ago

It was absolutely preposterous. He wasn’t even remotely close until the last 7 yards. I guess the first 25 was pretty close too.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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