Good morning folks, and welcome to the On-deck show, a show that looks at people and organizations that are working every day to make things better for folks like you and I, in their own way. This morning, we have the pleasure of speaking with Anne Ottenbrite from that infamous 1984 Olympic team in LA.
She was a triple. Olympic medalists, including one gold, one bronze, one, silver she's been inducted into every possible hall of fame. She's been awarded the order of Canada to say she has had an incredible career, would do it injustice today. She's the head coach of the Pickering swim club, and we're honored to have her here on the show this morning.
The text that follows is an unedited excerpt from our hour long conversation. The full video interview can be found on our youtube channel and by the link here. The full audio can be found by vis the Spotify link below
[00:00:40] Jason:[00:00:40] Good morning. And thank you for being here again. Thanksfor having us. Yeah. So I kind of want to, just to dive right into it in termsof, uh, you know, talking about, you know, your swimming history, because, youknow, being the age that I am and growing up, um, swimming, you know, like that1984 team, those, those Olympics, like [00:01:00] legends were born there andyou were.
[00:01:02] Um, and, um, I want to talk alittle bit about that. Talk about women in swimming. Talk about women on thatteam. Talk about your coaching career and kind of go from there. So, um, ifyou're right, let's just get into it. All right. So in, uh, You know, uh,starting the obvious place. I want to go back to the 84 Olympics.
1984 Olympic Games - Women's 200 Meter Breaststroke
[00:01:52] Anne:[00:01:52] Well, you know, it's still incredibly clear. Um, the, themoment in time, I was talking [00:02:00] about the moment in time, when you,you, when, when that metal and you add everything together that you've beenworking for a long time, uh, leadinginto 84, um, Well, there were obviously some issues that popped up.
[00:02:16] Uh, uh, my injury was one ofthem. Um, I dislocated my knee, uh, beginning of may. In 84. But prior to that,I was my biggest competitor at the time was who was an east German woman. Andwell, we had, we had some major competitions over the years have always sort ofone, two in the world. And, um, so fortunately I was looking forward to, youknow, Going to Olympics and winning my gold medal.
[00:02:53] That was the original plan and,uh, being up against and then when they [00:03:00] decided to pull out, um, Ibelieve it was around February that we found that out. Um, I guess my coach wasaware of a change in my training. So brought me into a, uh, Uh, I don't knowhow it came to be, but he discussed it with, from Canada and from Canada.
[00:03:22] Um, Brought me over to eastGermany. And I got to go through checkpoint Charlie, uh, into the east side.And that was quite the experience to swim against Judah at her home pool atEuropean championships. Um, and then being able to come. I after meeting her athome, I did come home and then refocused only just then to get money, dislocatemy knee.
[00:03:51] So all of that, uh, I meanbetween, um, probably March till July was, [00:04:00] I don't know if I'mswimming in my event.
[00:04:05] Jason:[00:04:05] Just to interrupt you there for a sec. So talk to meabout that. Um, because it really came down right to the wire because theswimming Canada, your coach, it set up a time trial prior to the games toactually qualify for the games. Is that right?
[00:04:19] Anne:[00:04:19] Yeah, well, they, they put me on the team, uh, with thehope that, uh, my knee, if it was, uh, close to 100%, I would be able to, uh,do the time that I had done prior to, uh, Olympic trials.
[00:04:35] Um, I, I didn't do anything ason for travel, but prior to Olympic trials, the time I did in may, before Idislocated my knee, um, was based off of that. It was based off of couldanybody beat the time that I did in may. So I didn't participate in an actualtime trial. The other swimmers.
[00:04:54] Jason:[00:04:54] Oh, understood. Okay.
[00:04:55] Okay. Um, anyways, so, but, butthat swim going in, I [00:05:00] mean, um, from an, uh, you know, in myresearch for this, I went back and just watched archive videos as much as Icould find so on and so forth. So the Japanese girl, and I can't recall hername at the moment. Like she was, uh, going into prelims, like she was expectedto be going in first, but ended up yeah.
[00:05:17] Uh, I think somebody got a sevenor 9, 8, 5 seconds off her best. And then you had this 15 year old Belgian girlwho kind of came out of nowhere. Um, and in the end it was a race betweenCanada and Japan. Um, and really at the end of it, just Canada, because, youknow, like it was, it was quite a race. So, um, talk to me a little bit about,you know, um, you, you mentioned your competition.
[00:05:40] That was okay. They decided toboycott. She wasn't there. You had the Japanese that was supposed to be uphere. Who was down in here. You had the Belgian girl who was, came out ofnowhere and was way up here. What was that like? Um, to sort of manage,navigate those emotions, going into that.
[00:05:56] Anne:[00:05:56] Well, yeah, there was a lot of emotions.
[00:05:59] First of [00:06:00] all, my heatswim, um, was an experiment for me pretty much. Um, getting up on the blocks.That was the first time I was able to do full, full width kick. Um, I didn'tknow really what kind of strength my leg would have through the whole, um, 200.Um, I always had a stronger backend, so it was always, um, that kind ofconfidence I had at the back end, uh, to rely on.
[00:06:30] I didn't know if I would havethat at this point. So everything was quite nerve wracking. The heat swim wasnerve-wracking. I didn't even, you know, the, the, my, my start. Even worsethan normal. It was not, I don't have a good reaction time to anything. So thatwas that. That was always my biggest worry, uh, what I was going to be doingoff of the block.
[00:06:55] Um, but of course I was in theready room while, [00:07:00] um, Alex. One is 400. I am the 400. I am what theTV was on in the writing room. Um, uh, and hearing your national Anthem. I, I,there was no, there was nothing that could pump me up more, obviously. Um, sogetting up and doing that race, uh, against Hiroko neck and Sakhi was the girlfrom Japan.
[00:07:26] We had swam together before. Um,and I was pretty confident that if I was able to do the race with the splitsthat I was able to do in the warmup, um, that I would. Uh, I could possibly winif I did it the way, but the adjustment had to come of not being able to do theworld record. I did realize that that was probably not within my area.
[00:07:56] Although I was at the one 50. Itwas still [00:08:00] nice, but yeah, legs.
[00:08:03] Jason:[00:08:03] Yeah. I mean, it's, it's still, it's, it's quite a storyto, um, you know, to go through the injury, recover show up and still be ableto perform at that level. I mean, at the end of the day, when you look at, youknow, what you were able to accomplish in that moment and how you were able tocontinue bettering yourself, like that's pretty remarkable.
[00:08:21] Um, One of the things like goingback and watching the archive videos. And, you know, I, I reached out to one ofyour former teammates, um, Tom Ponting, who, um, you know, is quite thehistorian on swimming. Um, anyways, just asking for some memories and stufflike that. And he shared some fond memories with about you and your friendshipwith Julia, Danielle, and so on and so forth.
1984 Olympic Games Swimming - Women's 100 Meter Breaststroke
[00:08:42] And. Anyway. So, um, he pointedme in the direction of a couple of archive videos to go look at it. And I haveto say that, although, uh, that 200 breaststroke was the race that it was, andit was your first gold medal. I was like, I had great, greater goosebumpswatching the a hundred breaststroke [00:09:00] simply because, I mean like youwere, I don't know if the camera angle was true, but it looked like you were,um, seventh or eighth going into the turn and you just like crushed everybody onthe second 50.
[00:09:13] Like, it was just, it was superawesome to watch. So what do you remember about that?
[00:09:19] Anne:[00:09:19] Well, that's funny. It's so funny that you bring that upbecause it was actually quite, um, uh, and I was standing swim for me becauseI'm just not as, I'm not a 100 breaststroker. So it was coming back from theback end was really exciting.