"Breaking the Surface" by Greg Louganis

Review written for ClubReading.com by Bill in 2001

I love to read. Every once in a while, a book comes along that remindsme so thoroughly why I love to read. This is just such a book.

I've been following the rescue attempts of the Russian Submarine,Kursk. At the time I'm writing this, the British rescue efforts arerushing to the scene. There is still a faint hope that the crew will besaved.

This story has struck a particular chord in me. I spent more than adozen years serving in the Navy, riding on nuclear powered submarines.We knew the risks. We coldly practiced drill scenarios for flooding,fires, steam line ruptures, all the while, living in one of the mosthostile environments on earth...beneath the surface of the earth'soceans. And now, with practiced logic and cold calm, I watch on the newsas this horrible catastrophe plays out.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the crew and their families and allthose desperately trying to rescue these men.

How precious life is! Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could spend everymoment of every day conscious of just how spectacular that moment is?But we can't. For most of us, we are caught up on the day to day ofliving. We have jobs and bills, new tires to buy, dishes to do, cat sickto clean up...sometimes the spectacle of life is more than we can stand.

Thank God for heroes. People we can look up to and remember greatness isjust around the corner. Greg Louganis has been a hero of mine for a longtime. I've always enjoyed watching the Olympics. The amazing athletesthat can run like a cheetah, or jump in the air higher than most of uscan reach. To steal a line from the master, "What a piece of work is aman! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and movinghow express and admirable!"

In Breaking the Surface, Greg Louganis brings to light the depth ofcharacter of such a hero. Here is a man who from a very early age was ontop of the world. An Olympic Champion, the world leader in 10M platformand 3M springboard diving. What the world saw was a successful, goodlooking young man smiling from the gold medal platform...seemingly not acare in the world.

Greg tells us a story of a boy who from a very early age was ridiculed,called names, insecure and depressed to the point of suicide. The listof challenges that the author shares with us is incredible.

The author shares with us key pieces of his life. As we read, Greg tellsthe story of growing up into an Olympic athlete. He shares with us hisdealings with hatred and bigotry as a gay man. Greg talks openly aboutan abusive relationship that cost him a great deal both emotionally andfinancially.

The author talks about his life after becoming HIV positive. Greg shareshis deepest fears with us. How he dealt with being sick, how he dealtwith the death of family and friends.

This amazing man shares with us how he is dealing with the day to dayreminders of our mortality. He discusses the AZT alarm going off every 4hours and how every cough or cold can lead him to wonder if this is theend. And with these constant challenges Greg wins another two goldmedals in the 1988 Olympics.

My thoughts of Greg Louganis as a hero have changed. Before, I saw himas a great athlete accomplishing amazing feats of skill. Now, afterreading his autobiography, I see him as a great man. A man of courageand amazing internal strength and beauty. I have gained strength andwisdom from his sharing. I am a better person for having read this book.

Thank you Greg Louganis.

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