Editor's Note: This article was originally published in March 2000.
In 1984, Pablo Morales was the world record holder in the 100-meter butterfly and a shoe-in for the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but he was touched out by Germany's Michael Gross.
Two years later Morales was again the world record holder, and by 1988 he was the butterfly favorite going into the Olympic trials. However, he finished third and didn't make the Olympic team in either the 100 or 200 fly.
Dejected, Morales quit swimming and started law school. In late 1991, Morales returned to competitive swimming. Critics said that at 27 he was too old and too out of shape after three years off. Less than a year later, Morales won the gold medal in the 100-meter fly at the 1992 Olympic Games.
When Anita Nall was 15 years old, she broke the world record in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 1992 Olympic trials and won three medals at the Barcelona Olympics.
She was No. 1 in the world in the 200-meter breaststroke for three straight years until she mysteriously began to get sick in 1993. One sinus infection and low-grade fever followed another.
No sooner was Nall off one antibiotic then she'd get sick again and have to go on another. She couldn't train for longer than a week and a half without taking several days off. Doctors couldn't find anything wrong.
Some doctors suggested chronic fatigue syndrome; others said it was psychosomatic. The persistent illnesses took a heavy toll on Nall. Exhausted and discouraged, she considered quitting.
After failing to quality for the 1996 Olympics, Nall took the next year and a half off. She slowly got better, and in the summer of 1998 she began to train again. She also found a doctor who diagnosed an allergic reaction to milk and milk protein. Since she's been on a milk-free diet, Nall is the healthiest she's been in years. She's training for the 2000 Olympics.
Early in his career, Olympian Tripp Schwenk damaged his right arm so severely in a water skiing accident that doctors told him he'd never use it again. Not only did Schwenk return to swimming, he set an American record in the backstroke and made both the 92 and 96 Olympic teams, medaling twice in Atlanta.
Open-water swimmer Jim Dreyer failed twice while attempting to to cross the 51-mile Lake Huron due to unsafe weather conditions. With money and good weather running out, he made a third and successful attempt and also set a world record.
Backstroker Bobby Brewer missed qualifying for the1994 World Championships by three-hundredths of a second. Days later, doctors discovered a bulging disc in his back and told Brewer to take three months off. Three months turned into nine months and emergency surgery. After surgery, he was told he'd probably never swim again.
Brewer spent the next three months in bed, dropped out of school, and battled depression. Then he slowly worked his way back to qualify for the 1995 World University Games, where he won a bronze medal.
In 1998, Brewer won the 100-meter backstroke at the USA Swimming National Spring Championships and was ranked number two in the United States and sixth in the world in that event.