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Spartan Olympians: Pam Kruse

  • Author:
    Robert Bao
  • Published:
    Summer 2008

PAM KRUSE, Member, U.S. women’s swimming team, Silver Medal, 800-meter freestyle, Mexico City Summer Games

            Pam Kruse, ’73, M.A. ’75, Ph.D. ’79, won a silver medal in 800 meter freestyle swimming at the 1968 Mexico City Summer Games. In all, she set four world records, including the 200 meter and 400 meter freestyle in 1967, and the 440-yard freestyle in 1966.

            “We were so strong in those days that at the Olympic trials I finished fourth in the 200 meter freestyle even though I owned the world record,” recalls Kruse, a native of Miami, FL, who was a member of the Pompano Beach swim club.

           Kruse and fellow Olympian Linda Gustavson, winner of three 1968 medals, became good friends and decided to go to college together. Since Gustavson was from Santa Clara, CA, they looked for a school in between.  “We chose Michigan State,” says Kruse.  “We loved it!  The campus was like a park.”  At MSU they joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and continued to win swim events, but “without training very hard.” Today Pam and her husband Dale Phelps own Village Bike & Fitness, which has four stores in the Grand Rapids area.

            “The Olympics was hugely disappointing,” recalls Kruse.  “I felt I let my parents down (by not making the 200- and 400-meter events). Fortunately I had  qualified for the 800-meter freestyle.” 

            Pam injured her knee before the race.  “It really hurt when I pushed off,” she says.  “But you had to grin and bear it.  The silver medal means a lot more to me because I had to overcome a lot more.”

            Since 2001 Kruse has survived two shoulder operations and competes in masters triathlons.  “I resisted it for a while because I didn’t want to swim again,” she notes.  “But now I realize how much I missed the competition.”