Tsuyoshi Yamanaka (JPN)
Honor Swimmer (1983)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1956 silver (400m, 1500m freestyle); 1960 silver (400m freestyle; freestyle relay); WORLD RECORDS: 14 (200m, 400m freestyle; 4 relays); AAU NATIONALS: 2 (200m, 400m freestyle); AMERICAN RECORDS: 3 (200m, 400m freestyle).
Yamanaka, perhaps Japan’s greatest freestyle (crawl) swimmer of all time, has never won an Olympic gold medal. He has four silvers to show for his elusive Olympic pursuits. At one point in his long career, which brought him to college in the U.S. at the University of Southern California, he broke the 200m Free World Record three times in less than two months (1961). In addition to his numerous Japanese records, Yamanaka had two American Records in the 200m and 400m free and won the U.S. National AAU Championships in these same events. He has beaten Hall of Famer George Breen in Olympic competition but usually met his nemesis in Hall of Fame all-time great Murray Rose. Rose’s birthday was six days before Yamanaka’s and Murray used to kid him that out of respect for his elders he should let Rose finish first. Born any other time and Yamanaka would have Olympic gold medals adorning his trophy case, but in the ’56 and ’60 Olympic Games, there were Hall of Famer Australians Rose and Konrads in front of him. Yamanka’s coach used the pebble method to get his star swimmer in shape. Whenever the Japanese star loafed in practice he would feel a pebble bounce off his back and knew the coach was watching him. After the workout Yamanaka had to pick up the pebbles, another incentive to train harder.