Olympic Newlyweds : Things Are Going Swimmingly for Medal Winners Doug Burke and Candy Costie as One New Venture After Another Surfaces

Times Staff Writer

Olympians Candy Costie and Doug Burke got married after the 1984 Games and have since taken up residence in Playa del Rey. They haven't exactly settled down, though.

Candy, 22, who with partner Traci Ruiz won a gold medal in duet synchronized swimming, has recently completed production on a water aerobics workout film to be marketed as a video cassette.

She and Ruiz also have moved on to professional synchronized swimming. "Traci and I have dates planned this summer at Marineland, Hawaii, and Las Vegas," Candy said.

Doug, 28, a member of the silver-medal winning U.S. water polo team, has an economics degree from Stanford and is working on his master's degree in finance and accounting at UCLA.

As an Olympian, he was employed by First Interstate Bank as part of a sponsorship program, and was able to get on-the-job training.

"I love accounting and now I have time to really get involved," he said. "What am I going to do after the Olympics? I'm gonna go to work."

He has recently landed a job with the accounting firm of Arthur Young and Co.

There's more, though.

The Burkes have recently taken an interest in Marineland. Aside from the planned performances Candy and Traci Ruiz have, they plan to work on promotions there, perhaps regular presentations of synchronized swimming.

Candy is also quite an artist, working in water colors and ink. She hopes to open her own gallery someday, although she says it will be strictly nonprofit.

Organized charity is another of the Burkes' interests. They contribute time to the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Assn., and the March of Dimes, teaching exercise routines or giving speeches.

"We talk about nutrition and help out with whatever function they set up," Doug said.

Two recent functions were American Lung Assn. Trivia Pursuit, and a charity golf game. "If it's going to help to be there, that's great," Doug said. "I'm gonna learn to play golf in a hurry."

The Burkes aren't endorsing products, but they are working on one of their own. They figure it's time to start making bread, literally.

Both love to bake, particularly their own health bread, an oatmeal-wheat recipe. They plan to market it, possibly as "Breadwinner Brand," and have turned that over to a bakery in Seattle, Candy's hometown.

"Their baker has what we've been doing and is trying to produce what we make in the kitchen on a large scale," Doug said.

"We plan on putting together tours and autograph sessions to promote it," Candy added.

Life is not all work and no play for the Burkes, however. They find time for recreational swimming every day at UCLA or Loyola Marymount, enjoying the sport that brought them together.

Many athletes who had to sit out the 1980 Moscow Olympics because of former President Carter's boycott have only bitter memories of that time. Doug Burke isn't one of them. Because of the boycott, he and Candy met.

Doug, a member of that 1980 Olympic team, was as disappointed as the other athletes at the time. He had planned to compete, then retire from water polo. Instead, he took a year off, then decided to come back for the '84 Games. "I never would've met Candy had I quit polo in '80," he said.

Candy was 17 in 1980 and synchronized swimming was not yet part of the Olympics. She had learned, though, that it would be in '84, and was thrilled, since that gave her something to shoot for. "It was exciting and nerve-racking at the same time," she said. "All of the sudden we had all this pressure."

She and Doug thus were set on courses that would cross at the World Games in 1982.

It wasn't quite love at first sight, but there was mutual interest. They began keeping track of one another's progress, then slowly became more interested. They were engaged before the Olympics, and spoke on the phone at least twice daily, Candy from Seattle, where she and Ruiz were based, and Doug from Long Beach.

Whatever else happens in Olympic synchronized swimming, Candy and Ruiz will always be remembered as the pioneers, the ones most responsible for putting the sport before the public on a competitive, rather than exhibition, level.

"Traci is still like a sister to me, " Candy said. "They say twins are alike, and I don't think things are different between us, since we do everything practically the same."

Although Ruiz tended to get a bigger share of the spotlight than Candy during the Games here, Candy has no hard feelings. "Traci was double gold medalist, and I was single gold medalist," she said. And now, she said, she is being noticed, too.

"For example our appearance in (The Times') Home Magazine--that was fabulous," she said. "Or the aerobics video, which I had to try out for. I have a real positive attitude toward the future."

Candy said, however, that her professional routines with Ruiz would be only seasonal work.

"I'm doing it strictly as a summertime job," she said. "I don't think there's a lot of money to be made now, but my positive attitude toward it is growing. More and more young people are becoming interested.

"I think there is money to be made if one was to devote their whole life to it, but I feel good just doing something for the sport."

Doug, too, has a positive attitude about Candy's swimming professionally. "It (the sport) can't get rid of Candy," he said, proudly.

After so long a time, it would seem strange for Candy not to be involved. "I became interested in synchronized swimming because when I grew up around the Washington Athletic Club, it was the downtown club, the social club, and swimming was the sport for girls," Candy said.

"I hate to say it, but it's true. All the girls were into swimming and I've been interested ever since."

She's 22 now, and since she was 9, she has spent most of her waking time in a pool, often practicing eight hours a day, five days a week, in a program that also included running and weightlifting.

She won her first gold medal in the 1977 Junior Olympics, and was always serious about her swimming. "I was always nagging the older girls, 'Help me, help me,' " she said. "They hated me," she added jokingly.

Doug's routine was equally rigorous, and he has a nose that was broken seven times to prove it.

A native of Modesto, Doug started swimming when he was 5, and got interested in water polo at 8 because of his desire to play a team sport. He became completely sold on the sport after being asked to play on the national team in 1977.

"Your head gets real big when you're approached on a national level," he said.

Doug's swimming these days is little more than recreational. He doubts that he will ever play water polo again.

"In 1980 and again in 1984 we had our shot, but the old gang has pretty much broken up," he said. "But I do love polo and if there is anything I can ever do for polo, I would do it."

He came as close as it's possible to get to a gold medal, without winning one. Yugoslavia, playing the United States in the final, came from behind to tie, 5-5, and, although both teams finished with the same record, won the gold on a better goal differential.

Neither he nor Candy, however, is living on past glories.

"OK, that was a great part of your life, but you can't dwell on it too long," Doug said. "You've done something you wanted to do so you take that and learn from it."

That, it appears, is exactly what these medal winners are doing.

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