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Miler Coghlan Has Gone Into Tank and Things Are Going Swimmingly

December 13, 1987|BERT ROSENTHAL | Associated Press

NEW YORK — Eamonn Coghlan, the fastest indoor miler in history, has gone into the tank.

No, Coghlan isn't planning to dump any races; he thinks he can win more races by strengthening his body through swimming.

Instead of running daily as in the past during training, Coghlan has been working out three times a week in Manhattanville College pool since October, and getting helpful hints from Rick Carey, three-time Olympic gold medalist.

"When I started swimming, I couldn't even swim 100 meters," Coghlan said. "Now, I'm up to 1,500 meters.

"When I started, I wasn't breathing properly. That's why I couldn't swim very far. Rick has helped me in that respect.

"Now, I have strengthened my upper body and abdomen, and I definitely have improved my breathing.

"Rick tells me what I'm doing wrong, how I'm improving.

"I used to think that swimming was one of the most boring things to do, never mind watching it," Coghlan said. "Now, I have a different perspective for the sport."

Coghlan also is taking a different perspective on his preparations for the indoor season, which he plans to begin Jan. 17 at Vancouver, British Columbia.

"I am trying to de-emphasize my preparations for indoors, and still see if I can be as successful as in the past," said Coghlan, the acknowledged "Chairman of the Boards," whose mile clocking of three minutes, 49.78 seconds in 1983 is the fastest ever.

"I am not de-emphasizing my desire to win," he emphasized. "I am de-emphasizing my effort in training.

"I think I will be the same force as I have been on the indoor circuit."

Coghlan said he gave no thought to skipping the indoor circuit, as some runners do during an Olympic year.

"I love it," he said.

"If I were to take off the indoor season and train nice and easy, and then get hurt in the summer and be unable to compete in the Olympics, I would kick myself for not running indoors.

"And if I didn't run indoors, a lot of people would say the mile is not the same without Eamonn."

Coghlan is not being boastful, just honest.

He is the major attraction in the glamour event on the indoor circuit.

Promoters don't like him to run in other events, such as the 2,000 meters, in which he owns the world indoor best (4:54.07), or 5,000 meters, which he enjoys running in the national indoor championships and the event in which he won the gold medal in the inaugural World Outdoor Championships in 1983.

Coghlan is the king of the indoor milers, and his appearance in the event is extremely helpful at the gate.

In addition to Vancouver, his indoor plans include running the mile in the Millrose Games at New York Feb. 5, the U.S. Olympic Invitational at East Rutherford, N.J., Feb. 12, the Los Angeles Times-GTE Indoor Games Feb. 19 and the Indoor Track and Field Championships at New York Feb. 26.

He might even run one or two other races.

Much will depend on Coghlan's physical condition. In recent years, he has suffered from a series of injuries, which have either canceled his indoor or outdoor seasons, or both.

This year, he missed the World Outdoor Championships after suffering injuries to his left knee during a road race at San Diego in June. Afterward, he tried favoring the knee and the left hip, and developed a sciatic condition.

"My training became erratic and my races were erratic," he said. "Some races I ran well, some I bombed out.

"Approaching the World Championships, I didn't think I could finish in the top three, so I didn't go (to Rome). If I had been in good shape, I would have gone.

"I don't want to be remembered for coming in last. I want to be remembered as a winner."

He would most like to go out a winner in next year's Olympic Games. He finished fourth in the 1,500 meters in the 1976 Olympics, fourth in the 5,000 in the 1980 Games and missed the 1984 Olympics because of a stress fracture.

"Realistically, this will be my last shot at a gold medal," Coghlan said. "By 1992, I will be 39 years old."

For the Seoul Games, Coghlan is training for the 10,000 meters, in which there is one preliminary race and the final. He would prefer that distance over the 5,000, which requires two preliminary races before reaching the final.

But Coghlan said he might run the 5,000, "because I'm not sure if I can go that long in my training" for the 10,000.

Next weekend, Coghlan will be in San Diego again, but not to compete. He will be there as a guest speaker and host for the Kinney National Cross Country Championships, featuring the nation's top high school runners at Balboa Park Dec. 12.

"It will give me a chance to mingle with the kids," he said. "This way, I will be able to give something back to the sport which has meant so much to me. They (the Kinney people) are trying to create an incentive for the young kids coming up. It's a great program."

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