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Fast Swimmer Must Also Be Fast Talker

May 08, 1986|RAY RIPTON | Times Staff Writer

At 11 a.m. Saturday, 16-year-old Anthony Kling of Bel-Air will be in Bakersfield delivering a speech on "Space Exploration: What Purpose?"

Kling's other purpose Saturday is to conquer space and time and compete for Harvard School at about 3 p.m. in the 4 x 100-yard freestyle relay in the 60th annual CIF-Southern Section Swimming Championships at East Los Angeles College.

When he has completed that unusual double, he expects to buzz home, don his tux, pick up his date in Glendale and dance his heart out at the sophomore prom Saturday evening in West Los Angeles.

All in a day's work? Only if you're young, brilliant, athletic, energetic, composed and ambitious. Kling, a top high school swimmer and orator, seems to have all these qualities--and then some.

Has Won Scholarship

And he's a good bet to be a big winner Saturday--unless he gets confused with his hectic schedule and winds up speaking like a fish or swimming like an orator.

The Bakersfield speech competition is a semifinal in the Lions Club Student Speaker Contest. Kling said he won a $1,250 scholarship in one of the local contests, will win a $4,000 scholarship if he should be the top speaker at Bakersfield (against competition that includes Harvard School senior Mike Reisz) and another $4,000 grant if he comes in first in the state finals at Stockton in June.

That should be sufficient motivation for him in Saturday's speech contest, and he is also hoping that he and his teammates can set a record for the freestyle relay at the CIF championships. He said he also would like to win a college swimming scholarship when he graduates from Harvard.

If Kling, who will represent the Brent-Air Lions Club on Saturday, is among Southern California's top high school speakers, his swim relay team definitely is among the best in the CIF in the 2-A Division. The freestyle team is one of the favorites in Saturday's championships, along with Calabasas, Gahr and San Luis Obispo high schools.

Bit of Pressure

Does he feel a lot of pressure in trying to excel at speaking and swimming in the space of a few hours? A bit, he said.

He said that the further he goes in the speech contest, "obviously, the harder the competition. So I'm nervous in that respect." But he added that the chance to win another scholarship will spur him to overcome jitters.

Kling said he has a lot of incentive to help his relay team win a CIF title and break the 2-A record of 3:16.9, which Harvard set in last year's championships.

Of course, he and his fellow relay swimmers--senior Mark Willick and juniors Fred Brende and Rob Karron--might not get a chance to break that record if they fail to qualify for the championships in today's CIF preliminaries at East Los Angeles College. If the team should fail to qualify, Kling would just have to worry about being on time for the prom.

Coach Confident

But John Sappey, Harvard swim coach and English teacher, is confident that the freestyle team will be in Saturday's finals. "I'd say that we have to be one of the big favorites to win," he said, adding that Willick and Brende are back from last year's record-setting team.

What if Kling gets stuck in traffic on the freeway from Bakersfield and doesn't get to the swim championships on time? "It will be tight," Sappey said. "But we have alternates, kids who are not quite as fast as Tony but who can take his place. We'll certainly be able to cover the bases."

But will Tony be able to get from first base in Bakersfield to second base, more than 100 miles away in East Los Angeles, in time? That's up to his mother Mary and his father, television producer-writer Haywood (Woody) Kling.

And they have already gone to great lengths to assure that he will. Mrs. Kling said that, at first, she and her husband were thinking of renting a private plane to fly Tony from Bakersfield. But she said that would have cost $1,300, and that the nearest place to land is El Monte, too far from the swim meet.

So Mrs. Kling will take the wheel and drive Tony both ways. She and her husband have made a partial dry-run on the route.

On the leg from Bakersfield her son will change into swimming gear and eat a meal high in carbohydrates to get his energy up. She will pack a lunch of pasta salad, sourdough bread, raw carrots, a banana and "a lot of water."

Tony also will be useful if the Klings happen to exceed the speed limit. "He can explain what we're doing to the police if we're stopped for a ticket," Mrs. Kling said.

That would test his powers of public speaking.

Coach Sappey is not exactly thrilled that Tony will prepare for Saturday's meet by taking such a long trip. But he does not oppose Kling's plans.

"He's a tough kid, but I think it's a lot to ask of him. I hope his speech-making doesn't adversely affect his swimming and vice versa."

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