Lorenza Munoz on »The Olympics That Weren’t«

Tough read here on the Los Angeles Times:

And every swim meet in Mexico was laden with disaster, contrary to the orderliness I had grown up with in the United States. At one meet, I discovered, a referee had been paid to disqualify me; at another, the pool was the color of mud, and we had to train in shark-infested ocean waters until it was cleaned. When I broke a national record, the swimming administrators wouldn’t acknowledge it.

The last time I swam for Mexico was at the 1991 Pan American Games in Cuba, a year before the Barcelona Games. I had trained that summer with the University of Texas women’s team — at the time, the No. 1 U.S. college swim program. It was grueling; I had pushed myself harder than ever. But when I landed in Cuba, my Mexican coach pulled me aside. The Mexican Swimming Federation had “forgotten” to enroll me in my races. I would swim in only a couple of relays and one individual event.

I don’t remember if I cried. I do remember shutting down. Swimming, the Pan Am Games, the Olympics down the road — nothing mattered anymore. I was done. The bureaucracy, and always feeling like a stranger among my Mexican teammates, did me in. I quit swimming.


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