Mike Bruner (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1988)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1976 gold (200m butterfly; relay); WORLD RECORDS: 2 (200m butterfly; relay); AMERICAN RECORDS: 2 (1650yd freestyle; 200yd butterfly); WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1978 gold (200m butterfly); AAU NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 7 (400m, 1500m, 1650yd freestyle; 200m butterfly); NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2 (1650yd freestyle; 200yd butterfly); 1982 Stanford University Athletic Hall of Fame; 1980 J. H. Kiphuth Award; 1980 American Swimmer of the Year.
Mike Bruner was high point winner in both the 1980 Indoor Nationals and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials. He qualified first or second for three events in the Moscow Olympics but never got to swim due to the political boycott. Fortunately he had better luck at the 1976 Montreal Games where his characteristically clean shaven head came away with two gold medals in the 200 butterfly and the 800 meter freestyle relay. This introspective man needed time to think, dream and plan and got this private time between Olympic Games and National Championships…by growing hair. “Hair gave me anonymity,” he said, “I enjoyed my swimming image as a ‘bald Daddy Warbuck head,’ but it was it was nice to hide behind my hair and be myself, too.”
Swimming at Stanford and all over the place with Bill Rose , Bruner won gold medals in twenty major national and world wide meets. Ironically his best year of the six he swam in top competition, was the last, when he was high point in both the indoor and outdoor U.S. Nationals, (1980).
The big question is how could a high mileage distance swimmer stay at it so long. “The hard way,” says Bruner. “I worked hard and long,” We studied what “the best were doing and then tried to top that in some way during his workouts,” said Coach Rose. “Mike had the ability to make practice into games with his intelligence and imagination. That’s it. He made himself the best and stayed up there through a combination of working, dreaming and playing winning games.” Rose as a coach kept it interesting by constantly changing workouts and figuring out how everybody else was going to swim the races. For this coach-swimmer relationship, Mike was first, last and always his own man.