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Posted April 18, 2012
1932 - California - What was Sammy's dream? What was Sammy's father's dream? That year the city of Los Angeles was hosting a very special event, do you know what it was? Summer of 1938 - Sammy is 18 and searches for a coach to assist him to reach his dream. Does Sammy find a coach? What class did Sammy enroll into further pursue his dream? Sammy faced discrimination, he could not attend his high school prom at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Yet, he received a full scholarship to Occidental College in Los Angeles. Read this fascinating book and learn more about the life of Sammy Lee. *Informative. *Enlightening. *Educational.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2010
Did you know that in 1932, a sign on a public swimming pool that read "Members Only" really meant that only whites were permitted to enter except on certain days? That year, Sammy Lee, the twelve-year-old son of Korean immigrants who ran a restaurant in Highland Park, CA, stood outside the swimming pool fence one hot summer day and saw a boy diving high in the air and breaking the water with hardly a splash. Sammy decided that he wanted to learn how to do that. The following Wednesday, when people of color were allowed to use the pool, his African American friend Hart Crum showed him how to dive doing somersaults. With the summer Olympics being held in nearby Los Angeles that year, Sammy dreamed of becoming an Olympic champion diver.
However, Sammy's father wanted him to become a doctor rather than an athlete. Six years later, when he was eighteen, Sammy was attending a swim and diving competition, and between meets, he sneaked into the pool area to practice. Jim Ryan saw him and agreed to become his coach. Sammy managed to keep his grades up while practicing diving, becoming the first nonwhite elected student body president in his high school and being offered a full scholarship at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Yet, he still faced discrimination, and his grades fell during his first year of college because he spent more time diving than studying. After seeing a rude customer berating his father in the restaurant and his father responding without losing his temper, Sammy understood why his father wanted him to do well in school. They struck a deal that Sammy could continue diving as long as his grades were good enough for medical school.
The 1940 Olympics were cancelled because of World War II, and Sammy thought his Olympic dreams were dead. He did go on to become a doctor in the Army in 1946, but that year he also entered the national diving championship, winning the high-platform dive with the highest score ever, and was able to enter the London, England, Olympics in 1948. While he continued to face discrimination, rather than getting angry he decided to prove his worth in the Olympics and show that people should not be judged by the color of their skin. What happened in those sixteen seconds that followed sixteen years of training? Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, the true story of Dr. Sammy Lee, has deservedly won numerous book awards including the New Voices Award. It is a wonderful story of dreaming, working hard, overcoming challenges, and being victorious. While it will be of special interest to children of Asian American descent, it illustrates for us all what Sammy's father had told him. "In America, you can achieve anything if you set your heart to it."