By John McElligott
I joined the swim team at age 6. I swam at the old Pagoda Pool and despite my age, I was placed in the 12 year old age group. Yes… I did come in last! I swam in that age group until I was 9 years old at which time the Midland Aquatic Team (MAC) formed and was coached by Wade Whatley. My brother, Bruce, always swam breaststroke. I swam everything including butterfly, backstroke, freestyle, and individual medley relay. This is also where I met Doug Russell and Bill Wood. Both of these guys became famous. Doug was not only a High School All American, he won the Olympics. Bill became a great quarterback at MHS and later a successful attorney.
I was a member of the team up to the age of 12. When I was 12, I was able to set a few records. That same year, I also lost my first race. After setting a national record in butterfly, I ate lunch and quickly lost the same lunch during the finals. That afternoon I came in 3rd beaten by the future All State swimmer from Austin and Doug Russell.
Listed below are some of the members of the MAC:
Bucky, Mary and Jerry Herndon
Tom, Bruce, John McElligott
Brownie, Marcia, Anita and Alan Queen
Simone and Roger Walker
Bob and Bill Connery
Penny and Mike Gerdis
Scott and Cherry Adams
Now Margie and I swam in Amarillo at a meet at one point. She sent me a news article about the meet. Perhaps she can be tracked down in Dallas along with her little brother, Archie.
Following my 12 year old swim days, I left the team and concentrated on baseball and school. I was starting at Alamo and ran into Coach Don Foglesong, who was my PE instructor. He was built like a little gorilla without all the hair and could do anything a gorilla could do, including running and flipping from stand point. Coach Foglesong was an Olympic diver and tumbler. He recruited John Duff and myself to be tumblers for Alamo. We did an exhibit at the MHS auditorium. I did ok, but Duff jammed his neck and that is all I remember. The Donald had just finished his Masters Degree somewhere , and was an amazing coach at Alamo.
Well 9th grade ended, and I ran away that summer. When I came back, Coach Foglesong was the new coach of the MHS swim team. He recruited me at once. Doug Russell was two grades behind me so I had some breathing room. I also ran into Jodi Givens, who became my mentor. Jodi was a senior, a football player and swam butterfly with a dolphin kick. Well , Jodi taught me how to do the dolphin kick followed by the double dolphin kick. This is when I started keeping up with Jodi, and came close to beating the Odessa High “fly guy” at district the next year. Jodi was a godsend for my career in swimming.
More to come!!