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Happy Anniversary, USMS (July-August 2010)

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The Georgia Tech Hotel and Convention Center was the scene for the 40th Anniversary celebration that functioned as this year’s meet social at the 2010 Short Course Nation al Championships in Atlanta. Longtime USMS members gathered with brand new members to celebrate 40 years of competition and camaraderie.

The first national Masters swimming championships were held in Amarillo, Texas, in 1970, when Masters swimming was first being organized. Capt. Ransom J. Arthur, a Navy doctor who envisioned swimming as a way for adults to stay physically and mentally fit as they aged, collaborated with John Spannuth, then president of the American Swimming Coaches Association, to hold that first meet.

The meet social developed as a tradition over the years. This year, more than 300 athletes and guests were treated not only to a delicious catered meal, but also an interesting history lesson. Robert Beach with St. Petersburg Aquatics presented a slideshow highlighting some of the early days of Masters swimming. Beach, 79, one of the original members of USMS, has amassed a sizeable collection of memorabilia and was happy to share his reminiscences.

Beach is also the founder of the longest running short course Masters meet in the country, and quite possibly the world. After consulting with Ransom Arthur and Richard Rahe, another Navy doctor and early organizer of Masters Swimming in 1970, Beach organized what was originally called the Southern Short Course Championships, which later became the St. Petersburg Short Course Championships. The first meet in 1970 had 17 competitors, but these days the meet averages about 300.

Swimmers who love pool meets owe a debt of gratitude to these pioneers of Masters swimming: Arthur, Spannuth, Rahe, and others like June Krauser, Hal Onusseit, and Buster Crabbe. And their supporters—the early meet organizers, volunteers, and athletes, who showed up, swam, and worked to put down the foundation for the organization we enjoy today. Some of these athletes are still competing and were on hand to help celebrate in Atlanta, including Beach, Ted Haartz, Paul Hutinger, Jane Katz and Bumpy Jones. If you are fortunate to meet any of these members, be sure to thank them for their contributions to our great sport.

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Updated July 1st, 2014 at 10:54 AM by Editor

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