When John Kinsella was just 9 years old, his summer league coach told his parents that by the time he was 15 he would be one of the greatest freestylers in the world. At 16, Kinsella won a silver medal in the 1500 (behind Mike Burton of America) at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
John Kinsella came directly from Doc Counsilman’s coaching tree. He grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois swimming for legendary coach Don Watson. Watson swam at the University of Iowa when Doc Counsilman was the Assistant Coach and went on to coach under him at Indiana before turning Hinsdale McDonald’s Swim Club into water monster. Kinsella went on to swim for Doc at Indiana alongside Mark Spitz, Gary Hall Sr., and Fred Tyler.
“He enjoyed the work. Many distance swimmers aren’t willing to pay the price it takes to get to the Olympics. John was. I don`t know if I had any athlete who worked as hard as John. He was able to take a tremendous amount of work.” – Don Watson
Known as, “The Machine“, Kinsella crushed it all: the 1968 Olympics, high school, college, AAU, the 1972 Olympics, open water, and professional marathon swimming. He won the prestigious Sullivan Award in 1970 for the country’s top amateur athlete and never lost a marathon in his entire professional career. What a freak.
At the 1972 Munich games, Kinsella won gold on the 800 Free Relay along with Fred Tyler, Spitz, and ‘One Lung’ Genter. Fred Tyler is the only member of that relay not to have signed The Swimming of Science.