Alumni break in new pool

Past MU swimmers honor former coach at annual reunion meet.
Sunday, September 25, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:35 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Lyndon B. Johnson was the president of the U.S. when Carlton Berg swam for MU’s first swim team.

“I think I am the oldest swimmer there is,” Berg said.

Berg, who will be 63 next month, was one of 120 alumni in town this weekend for Missouri’s swimming and diving teams 40th year reunion. They came from all over the U.S. to honor their former coach, Joe Goldfarb, and to participate in the first official meet of the new aquatics facilities at the Student Recreation Center.

Berg traveled with his wife from Hinsdale, Ill., where he runs construction for the hospital at the University of Illinois. It was the first time he has been back to Missouri in 20 years.

“We opened (the Natatorium),” Berg said. “The first couple of weeks of practice we swam in the women’s gym in Gentry Hall because the Natatorium wasn’t ready.”

He swam for Missouri in the 1964-1965 season and was one of many swimming alumni to brave a Speedo and race in the meet in the new facility.

Jean Hagen Miller traveled from Colorado Springs, where she is an attorney, for a different reason.

“Redemption,” Miller said. “To find out who I was way back then, and who I am now. It’s been 25 years.”

She also wanted to see the new facilities and catch up with old friends. Miller said she and several of her former teammates still keep in touch.

“I learned how to work hard,” Miller said about the Missouri swimming program she swam in from 1977-1981. “I learned how to win.”

Miller’s favorite memories of her time on the team are of traveling. For the winter breaks, the team went to either Florida or Arizona, and they had many road trips to their meets.

“The trips were always fun with a bunch of crazy girls,” Miller said. “And a couple men coaches who were very tolerant.”

Brent and Bradley Brunne traveled from Palm Beach, Fla., to honor Goldfarb, who recruited the brothers in 1980 and 1981, respectively. “I came here, and I liked his faith-based, Christian approach to life in general,” Brent said. “Not only his discipline in swimming, but also his commitment to education. Of the combination of the two, he put (getting a degree) the highest.”

The Brunnes also wanted to support the new team and the renewed spirit of the alumni association. They are proud of what Goldfarb’s program is today and that it survived through Title IX issues when all of the other Big 8 schools were dropping its programs.

“We stayed in the game,” Brent said. “(We) made it through and look what we ended up with — a beautiful attribute to the program.”

Goldfarb was a coach at Missouri for 23 years, beginning in the 1965 season. He currently teaches in the MU School of Education, where he has been leaving his mark on future teachers for 41 years.

“I thank the Lord that I was able to do what I loved to do. I always wanted to be a coach,” Goldfarb said. “I didn’t want to be a doctor, I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a coach.”

It meant a lot to him to be able to see the swimmers that he coached in the past, several of which he did not know were coming. He said he is grateful that he had so many years making an impact on so many people.

“What would it have been like to have this pool then?” Goldfarb said. “Nobody else has a facility like this.”

Many things, other than the facility itself, have greatly changed since the alumni were a part of the MU program. This became apparent when a Britney Spears music video that was playing on the large media screen above the pool was mistaken for a pornography video.

After the alumni swam, area divers put on an exhibition, and the current Missouri swimmers competed in a freestyle relay race against each other as the finale.

After the meet, the alumni and their families attended a lunch at Tiger Lounge overlooking Faurot Field, where they met the current Tigers swimming team and listened to Chancellor Brady Deaton speak. Later Saturday night, they had dinner at the Clinton Club in Mizzou Arena, where there was a ceremony to formally recognize Goldfarb.

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