Emerging from the Great Depression, America turned its collective hope to a rowing crew of nine boys, who would fight through myriad of seemingly insurmountable challenges to represent the U.S. in a gold medal quest during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Sons of working class families, this crew from Washington showed the country and the world the power of the American spirit through dedication, determination, and collective will. Under Adolf Hitler’s watchful eye, the boys challenged both the German crew and the prestigious British boat in a race that would echo in the halls of Olympic history for generations to come.
Success in the sport of rowing, which was at its height in the first half of the twentieth century, requires teamwork, synchrony, and intense focus. Strength, while important, will only get you so far. The goal of every crew is to achieve a harmonious stroke called “swing,” where every oar enters the water at the same angle and moment, where every oarsman is connected mentally and physically and is operating fully in the moment. When a crew is in full “swing,” their boat lifts off the water and glides across its surface with unparalleled speed and grace.
Outside the sport of rowing, organizations and teams that can align themselves, leverage each other’s collective talents, and build meaningful relationships with one another can find their “swing” and reach far beyond their potential.
I highly recommend “The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics,” on The New York Times Bestseller list for 117 weeks, by author Daniel James Brown. This story defines the American ideals of achieving success through setting goals, fighting odds, and pulling together. Hopefully, we can all participate and build teams in our own lives to find that elusive, yet attainable “swing.”
Book review by
H. Christian Raigosa, MD
Physician-In-Charge, Santa Clarita Medical Offices
Editor’s Note: “The Boys of ’36,” inspired by “The Boys in the Boat,” aired on PBS in 2016.