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New Memoir by Former World's Fastest Swimmer, Jeff Farrell, Tells Cinematic Story of Olympic Lore; Winning 2 Gold Medals Weeks After Emergency Surgery

‘My Olympic Story - Rome 1960’ tells a gripping, inspirational and ultimately uplifting real-life story that even Hollywood could never have conceived. As the 1960 Rome Olympics raced near, Jeff Farrell was the world’s fastest swimmer and poised to steal the podium – until his appendix burst six days before the Olympic trials in Detroit. Doctors told Farrell his chances of making the U.S. Olympic swimming team were shot, and his career could be over – words that compelled him to dive back into the pool two days after surgery, qualify in the Olympic trials four days later and grab two seemingly-impossible Gold medals at the games. This is Farrell’s story, a landmark example of one hero’s ability to triumph over fate.


Santa Barbara, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/21/2015 -- Those who have endured the dreaded appendectomy will attest to a week in hospital, a month of pain and one of the most uncomfortable experiences of their life. Two days after Jeff Farrell's appendix was removed, he was back in the swimming pool preparing for the 1960 Rome Olympics trials.

But Farrell wasn't any old hobby swimmer, he was the fastest in the world and had set eleven national records in the previous six months alone. The world had tipped Farrell to come home draped in medals from the forthcoming Rome Olympics, and he wasn't going to let collapsing in motel room and undergoing emergency surgery stop him.

This heartwarming and somewhat unbelievable story is told in 'My Olympic Story – Rome 1960', Farrell's newly-released memoir. It's no wonder members of the global swimming fraternity have hailed the author "the epitome of a true hero in our sport", "inspirational to all readers" and "iconic in the sport of swimming". Both swimmers and non-swimmers will revel in a story that examines all aspects of the human condition and redemption's unshakable power.


Jeff Farrell was the fastest swimmer in the world in 1960, a heavy favorite to win Gold in the upcoming Olympic Games in Rome. Then the unthinkable happened, Jeff collapsed and underwent an emergency appendectomy six days before the Olympic Trials. The surgeon said he would not be able to swim again for two months. What happened next is part of Olympic lore, a warm and unforgettable story of courage and sportsmanship.

"Two days after an appendectomy, most people are writhing in hospital beds unable to sleep, but (my coach) Bob Kiphuth had me back in the pool working towards qualifying for the Olympics, with the whole world watching me," explains Farrell, the only swimmer ever to be inducted into both the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame. "Six days later I found myself qualified for the relay team and packing my bags for Italy, still hoping to bring home gold medals."

Continuing, "The book is my story of overcoming setbacks, about how sometimes what is important in life is not what happens to you but what you do about it. It's about goal-setting, perseverance and listening to what coaches or other experts tell you. The medical world still thinks it's crazy that someone qualified for such prestige barely a week after being stitched up on an operating table; but swimming was what I did, and my many supporters were willing me to win those medals. Mind over matter is a powerful thing, and I hope my story encourages others to understand that hope can prevail over adversity."

Since its release, the book and its story have garnered a string of rave reviews. Australian 100-meter Olympic champion Jon Henricks comments, "Be sure to have your aspiring young athletes read his story, to allow them to understand what strength of character it takes, to be an icon amongst one's peers."

American Olympic champion Steve Clark adds, "Jeff's book is inspirational to all readers, athletes or nonathletes. It involves all aspects of the human condition - dedication, perseverance, goal setting, tragedy, failure, willpower, integrity and honor, and ultimate redemption."

Diana Nyad, the legendary ocean swimmer, sees the story as a true game-changer. She writes, "The Jeff Farrell story will go down as one of the most dramatic, heart-tugging, inspiring moments in all Olympic history."

Another critic enjoyed the book's wider portrait of competitive swimming's golden age, "Jeff Farrell's book grabs you from the first page, revealing his personal courage and grit as he attempts to make the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team in spite of a last-minute emergency appendectomy. In recalling the events of his struggle, Farrell opens the door into the fascinating era of the birth of the modern swimmer in the late 1950's and early 60's."

'My Olympic Story – Rome 1960', from Vintage Team Press, is available now:

About Jeff Farrell
Jeff Farrell lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Gabrielle, and is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.