Book-Four Champions

Four Champions, One Gold Medal

Four Champions One Gold Medal book

"Four Champions, One Gold Medal," is the story of a the development of Tim Shaw, Brian Goodell, Bobby Hackett and Stephen Holland and their competition to win the Gold Medal in the 1500 freestyle at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.


See what others are saying...

REVIEW I From Roy Pinchot

Dear Coach Warner:

I wanted to write you this note as someone who captained Northwestern’s swim team (distance freestyle) and has been active as participant and student of technique and coaching over many decades. I have just reread your fabulous "Four Champions" book for the third time and find it even more compelling than when I first read it many years ago. I have collected all the books written on swimming, and yours is the only one that relives the feelings, emotions and PAIN that goes with distance training and racing…and, how one becomes addicted to that pain and the drive to “push through.”

I read that Michael Phelps was training at sometimes 12 miles a day and raced timed 5,000 and 3,000 meter sets. Multiplied out this would be somewhat comparable to what your four swimmers were doing back in the 1970s – assuming that he was doing this every day and all the time. Do you think Phelps and Bowman have brought American swimming back to the old days of pain and distance and that the payoff has been similar?

Again, congratulations on having written the BEST BOOK on swimming done so far. You are the FIFTH champion.



The domination of men's distance freestyle by Australian swimmers during the 1990s had its origins in the mid 1970s. Stephen Holland, who is one of the four champions of the title of this book, brought home the only medal of a predicted 10 for Australia from the 1976 Olympics. The expectations from him were so great that his bronze medal was deemed a failure. Stephen broke 11 world records during 1973-76 in the 800 and 1500 freestyle. He retired from the sport at age 18 and was hurt by the lack of appreciation of his achievements by many of his countryman.

Ironically, it was on the night of the finals of the men's 1500 freestyle at the 1976 Montreal Olympics that Australian lawmakers introduced important legislation that would lead to the current ascendancy of Australian sport. Stephen Holland lacked the facilities and financial incentives so generously available now, in no small part due to his effort 23 years ago.

In many respects, this is an extraordinary book. It is the story of a special period when there was rapid evolution in training volume and methods due to innovative coaching and the fantastic rivalry of four great athletes who established 28 world records during 1973-78. Chuck Warner, the author of this book and the head coach at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has done a great service to the sport in documenting in detail what made these four great athletes they became.

...Warner says the majestic achievements of Brian, Bobby and Tim can be traced to their talent, the environment in which they lived and trained, and the competition within America during tis' world dominance of distance swimming. ...Warner concludes with an analysis of the current situation. He suggests American swimming is nin deep trouble due to parent controlled clubs. This has weakened the once strongest-in-the-world club system and many talented coaches have opted for a more secure setting in a university, rather than remain in the pressure cooker that exists in club coaching...

Warner by focusing on the men's 1500 freestyle has made a singular addition to swimming literature.



1999. 204 pages.
Chuck Warner's new book, Four Champions, One Gold Medal, is a monumental achievement! Descriptive, prescriptive and inspirational, it recounts--step-by-step--the road taken by four world-class athletes in quest of Olympic gold: Americans Tim Shaw, Brian Goodell and Bobby Hackett, and Australian Steve Holland.

All four were extraordinary athletes--incredibly hard-working, and totally focused on their common goal of winning the 1500 meters at the 1976 Olympic Games. All four were champions in every sense of the word. Yet only three made it to the blocks at the start of the 1500 in Montreal. And, of course, only one emerged as Olympic champion.

Warner tells the compelling story of each of these gifted athletes, who share a love of swimming and the goal of winning, yet come from strikingly different backgrounds--from their first stroke in a pool through the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner" in Montreal. The 1500-meter race in '76 was one of the greatest races in Olympic history, and Warner recounts the race in thrilling detial, stroke-by-stroke, lap-by-lap, getting inside each swimmer's head.

For budding distance swimmers and their coaches--or for anyone who wants to learn how dedication to a goal can reap unbounded rewards--this book is an absolute must.