Jello fingers, Roy Rogers, and Cap’n Crunch
Oh, the stories Starlit swimmers can tell! I swam during the glory years of Starlit Aquatic Club located outside of Washington, DC in the 1970s and 80s. Nutrition was a different beast back then. Although good nutritional advice was abundant, to a teenage swimmer starving after a 10,000 meter workout or a three-day meet, I ate nearly everything and anything. Perhaps my swimming suffered and I didn’t quite make it to my full athletic potential, but it sure was memorable.
I fondly remember my sticky fingers, red from dipping into the unprepared box of Jello between races. No four hour session rule existed back then and a swim meet could last all day. Like most other swimming families, the parents suffered along with the rest of us slogging through hours and hours on weekends hosting meets and making sure we had food to eat and dry towels to wear. Jello was one way we thought we could survive the endless hours and keep our sugar level high. Now I know better but it was fun, sticky and delicious at the time.
After a long weekend at Starlit, my mom would treat us to hamburgers, fries and shakes at the nearby Roy Rogers. Google informs me that they still exist in a few places on the East Coast but I haven’t had the luxury of a Double R Bar burger in decades. Those made quite an impression on this starving swimmer back in the 70s. I even remember asking a friend to hook me up with a lunch while back in Washington, DC in 1984 on my trip with the Olympic team to the White House. Who knows, I probably even skipped a fancy meal with the team just to enjoy this childhood memory again.
Roy Rogers and Jello weren’t the only less than stellar food items I cherished during by teens. I think I made my first national team fueled by Cap’n Crunch cereal. My mom would stock our pantry with boxes and I’d eat so many bowls full after Saturday practice that the roof of my mouth would be raw. Bugs Bunny cartoons and Cap’n Crunch were my weekend rituals. Again, not the soundest nutrition for an athlete but what great memories!
Susan Rapp-von der Lippe is a three-time Olympic team member, gold and silver medalist and a member of the Stanford University Athletic Hall of Fame. She currently works with SwimLabs in Fort Collins, CO teaching learn-to-swim, and competitive lessons and runs her own marketing company, www.igbbmarketing.com.