Remembering Parry O'Brien
Shot put gold medalist
Olympic shot put gold medalist and USMS member Parry O’Brien died on Saturday April 21, 2007, after suffering a heart attack half way through his 500-yard free event at the SPMA LMSC SCY Regional Championships in Santa Clarita, Calif.
During the span of his track and field career, Parry set 17 shot put world records while raising the shot put record distance from 59 feet ¾ inch to 63 feet 3 inches. He was the gold medal winner in the shot put at the 1952 Olympics and again at the 1956 Olympics. He distinguished himself with a silver medal performance in the 1960 Olympic Games and a fourth place finish in the 1964 Olympic Games before finally retiring in 1966. His radically new 180 degree spin technique for throwing (putting) the shot drastically changed the shot put event forever. Parry was US National Champion 17 times in the shot put and once in the discus throw.
Parry joined USMS in 1987 swimming unattached from 1987 to mid 1989 when he transferred to the North Dakota LMSC and swam for Dakota Masters in the LCM National Championships. He again registered in the SPMA LMSC as unattached in 1990 before swimming for the SCAQ club from 1991 through 1994. Parry swam with the San Diego Swim Masters team from 1995 through 2002 when he and his wife lived in Palm Desert. He most recently represented the Southwest Masters in the SPMA LMSC.
In 1991, Parry was the men 55-59 winner of the 2-Mile Cable National Championship (1/4 mile straightaway course) held in Glorietta Bay, San Diego, and was named a USMS Long Distance All-American as a result. He was named a 1999 USMS Long Distance All-American again following his win in the men 65-69 6+ Mile Long Distance National Championship event held in the ocean off of Santa Monica. Parry turned in countless numbers of top ten swim performances over the past twenty years. Many of his top ten performances were in butterfly events.