The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Mark Tewksbury

Swimming

1992


Colour photo of swimmer Mark Tewksbury doing the backstroke

Colour photo of swimmer Mark Tewksbury doing the backstroke

Date
circa 1992
Collection
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

Mark Tewksbury

It is a devastating situation. The Olympics are eleven months away and American Jeff Rouse is clocking times over a second faster than the rest of the world in the 100 metre back stroke. At the world class level you don’t just make up a one second improvement! Mark Tewksbury is a strategic racer with a lot of heart and he has a vision of what he needs to do physically, technically and mentally. He steps up his rigorous dry-land training program and in the water he works relentlessly on his turn and finish.

Ranked fourth in the world in the 100 metre back stroke coming into the 1992 Olympics, Mark Tewksbury is definitely a medal favourite, but gold is really only on the radar screen for the optimistic Canadian fans. Rouse ranked number one, and fellow American David Berkhoff are the dominant competitors.

It is day five of the competitions and the Canadian Swim Team is bombing. One by one Mark’s closest friends are leaving the pool with unfulfilled dreams. He has to balance feelings of empathy without getting pulled in. Somehow in spite of their disappointments he must find a way to reach his own dream. In the morning swim he clocks a personal best of 54.75. Only Rouse has a faster time. The race comes down to the two of them. Mark spends the entire day releasing tears and emotions fighting desperately to find an Olympic champion’s zone. He arrives for the final calm and confident.

Rouse takes the lead and is ahead of Tewksbury and Berkhoff at the turn. Long considered the fastest man on top of the water in the back stroke, Tewksbury spins through the turn and decides to pop up quickly to pressure Rouse to the finish. Rouse holds the lead but Tewksbury is staying with him and with half a length left he looks assured of a medal…its colour still uncertain! Then his heart and guts and sheer will to win kick in and with only a few metres to go Tewksbury does what so few can do when the body is screaming in agony – he visibly picks up in the water and digs deeper with each stroke. He begins to move past Rouse. He needs every last stroke and when he touches the wall he knows…but the scoreboard delays flashing the results. Finally it lights up, “Tewksbury, Mark 53.98…Rouse, Jeff 54.04. – A new Olympic record, and the gold medal.

Tewksbury wins Lou Marsh Trophy Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1986
Commonwealth Games, Gold medals – 100m backstroke, 4 x 100m medley relay
1988
Olympic Games, Silver medal – 4 x 100m medley relay
1990
Commonwealth Games, Gold medals – 100m backstroke, 4 x 100m medley relay
1991
World Aquatic Championships Silver medals – 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke
1992
Barcelona Olympic Games, Gold medal – 100m backstroke
1992
Olympic Games, Bronze medal – 4 x 100m medley relay
1992
Lou Marsh Memorial Award