The Wonder Crew: The Untold Story of a Coach, Navy Rowing, and Olympic Immortality [NOOK Book]


THE WONDER CREW is the fascinating story of how the salty coach of the Annapolis crew team, Coach Richard Glendon, seized the sport of rowing first from the Ivy League schools and then the imposing British with a new style both uniquely American and very much his own. He took a group of young midshipmen with humble origins and dominated a sport once the domain of the privileged.

After stunning the Ivy Leagues in race after race, the ...

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The Wonder Crew: The Untold Story of a Coach, Navy Rowing, and Olympic Immortality

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THE WONDER CREW is the fascinating story of how the salty coach of the Annapolis crew team, Coach Richard Glendon, seized the sport of rowing first from the Ivy League schools and then the imposing British with a new style both uniquely American and very much his own. He took a group of young midshipmen with humble origins and dominated a sport once the domain of the privileged.

After stunning the Ivy Leagues in race after race, the US Naval Academy team won a shot at the Olympics. Their task was nearly impossible: for hundreds of years, the British Navy ruled the world and their supremacy of the seas naturally made them dominant in the sport of rowing. With the hopes of a nation, Navy went into the heart of Europe and in thrilling fashion defeated the heavily favored Brits to win the gold medal in 1920. With Glendon's new American style, the US won Gold for forty straight years, the longest winning streak in any single sport in Olympic history.

Rich in history, with brave characters, American ingenuity, and dramatic training and competition, THE WONDER CREW is the first comprehensive account of the 1920 Olympic Navy crew team and their inspirational coach who forged the dramatic story of their quest for Olympic gold.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Sing (Spirituality of Sport) recounts the 1920 Olympics when the American crew team beat the British, who dominated the sport until then. Thoroughly researched and documented, the book explores the rise of the modern Olympic games and the history of rowing and the life of coach Dick Glendon-all provide context for the sport and its culture. In the vein of Wayne Coffey's The Boys of Winter, about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, Sing creates a David vs. Goliath scenario made possible by an unconventional coach, who revolutionized the sport. Unfortunately, Sing's prose can be cumbersome ("A revealing and stunningly important article by Dr. Walter Peet, past coach of Columbia, proceeded to dissect and analyze the empirical thinking of Glendon that in a nutshell is a synopsis of the Glendon stroke, which is the basis of the newly found and tried American Orthodoxy"), but crew fans will appreciate how triumph in a sport lifts a nation. Photos. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A U.S. Naval Academy crew stuns the rowing world by upsetting the British team at the 1920 Olympics. First-time author Saint Sing, herself a former world-class rower, demonstrates laudable enthusiasm and scholarship in her account of an upset rivaling the U.S. hockey team's victory over the Russians at the Lake Placid Olympics. But her prose, ranging from hyperbolic to wooden, generally fails to bring to life either the drama or its characters. The story's hero is legendary Navy coach Richard Glendon, who brought a new scientific thinking to the sport. The son of a Cape Cod mackerel fisherman, Glendon designed a new style of rowing oar and a revolutionary new rowing stroke; he even tried oiling the bottoms of ducks to see whether the substance would give greater speed to his boats. His upstart Navy team had already conquered the American rowing world, but at the 1920 Antwerp Games it was still an underdog to the all-star British Leander squad, whose rowers were plucked from Oxford, Cambridge and other centuries-old rowing clubs. Saint Sing muffs the buildup to the climactic championship race by skipping virtually any description of the early Olympic heats and the crucial semifinal against France. She does a better job with the finale itself, in which the U.S. squad shattered the world record by more than six seconds for a narrow, come-from-behind victory. Glendon went on to coach for many more years. When he died in 1956, Admiral Chester Nimitz, a member of Glendon's 1905 Navy team, ordered that news of his passing be immediately sent to every ship in the Navy. Saint Sing's journeyman skills don't do full justice to the high drama of this tale of grit, teamwork and Olympic sportsmanship.
From the Publisher
“If you don’t know what happened during the 1920 Olympics on a Belgian canal—or even if you do—let The Wonder Crew transport you there. Susan Saint Sing will guide you expertly on a true journey from imitation to innovation, from individuality into teamwork, from war toward peace.” —Dorothy Ours, author of MAN ‘O WAR: A Legend Like Lightning

"Olympic rowing has a long and illustrious history. THE WONDER CREW is the intriguing story of the 1920 Olympic Games and a battle between the Royal Navy of the British Empire and the US Navy contested through the sport of rowing. Come down to the dock and watch as this great regatta unfolds!" —Anita DeFrantz, member of the International Olympic Committee and first African American woman to win a medal in rowing

"This is a rare, good book for it succeeds in its appeal to those who love competitive, athletic history that is well written. The victory of the Wonder Crew is arguably the greatest 'upset' of the early twentieth century. The story is tantalizing - it's a darn good read." —Prof. John Lucas, Olympic Historian

"A wonderful historical account of the great 1920 US Olympic Eight. How appropriate that this Naval Academy Crew started the longest winning streak in Olympic History. Our 2008 Men's Eight will read this book on the way to Beijing." —Mike Teti, 2008 US Olympic Rowing Coach

“You don’t have to love rowing—or even know anything about it—to be captivated by this amazing account of Navy’s 1920 crew. Like Chariots of Fire, Miracle on Ice and Seabiscuit, The Wonder Crew has all the ingredients of a great sports story—courage, commitment, and the triumph of underdogs who believed in themselves.”—Knight Kiplinger, editor in chief, The Kiplinger Letter.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466856233
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 371,574
  • File size: 439 KB

Meet the Author

SUSAN SAINT SING, has both competed in and coached rowing at the college and national level, and is an authority on rowing history.  She was a member of the 1993 US World Rowing Team and lives in Stuart, Florida.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note

1 The Old Man 7

2 A Corpse, an Olympics, and a Midshipman Named Nimitz 21

3 Navy's Love Affair with Crew 34

4 The War Years: 1914-1918 42

5 British Rowing Roots 55

6 Henley vs. the Olympic Games 64

7 American Scientific Oarsmanship and the Crew 71

8 The American Seasons Of 1919-1920 89

9 The British Season of 1920 101

10 The U.S. Olympic Trials 114

11 The Crossing 123

12 1920 Henley and Leander 145

13 Cutting Down 53

14 Vilvoorde 165

15 Opening Ceremony 177

16 Heats and Semis 184

17 The Olympic Race 192

18 A Radical Turn of Events 207

19 The Longest Streak 222

Epilogue 238

Notes 245

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Customer Reviews

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