Nine To Be Inducted into Hall of Fame This Weekend -- January 6, 2005
FORT LAUDERDALE, January 5. NINE Masters aquatic athletes will be inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF)in ceremonies this Saturday.
The honorees were selected by an international committee for enshrinement for their international achievements in Masters aquatic competition.
The ceremony takes place on January 8, 2005, at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The inductees include:
Flora Connolly (GBR) Masters Swimmer
John Deininger (USA) Masters Diver
Bumpy Jones (USA) Masters Swimmer
Betsy Jordan (USA) Masters Swimmer
William McAlister (USA) Masters Diver
Sandy Neilson-Bell (USA) Masters Swimmer
Richard Reinstaedtler (GER) Masters Swimmer
Tod Spieker (USA) Masters Swimmer
Phil Whitten (USA) Masters Contributor
Biographies of the honorees follow:
Flora Connolly (GBR) Honor Swimmer
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 1021, Pre-1986 Points – 0, Total Points – 1021; Since 1979, she has competed in six age groups (45-49 thru 70-74); 64 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS;
Flora’s mother taught her to swim in her primary school years, but she began competitive swimming at 13 when a friend asked her to swim in a team race for their local swimming club Whitehall Amateurs, Dundee. She swam and joined the team. Her first race was a 25 yard beginner’s race and she placed second. Training that first year consisted of forty-five minute sessions on Friday nights. During her first ten years of youth swimming Flora won every Midland District Championship (one of the four in Scotland) at one time or another in each stroke and at all distances. She was the Scottish Champion in the 200 yard freestyle and 400 yard medley. She was selected to represent Scotland in International competition against England and Wales from 1954-56. From 1957 to 1979, Flora did not compete in swimming and spent her time raising her four children. Her hobbies included dressmaking and Scottish Country Dancing, which she still teaches once a week as part of an adult education program.
Around 1979, Flora began training while her daughter was at practicing for international competition mornings and evenings five days a week. Instead of sitting and waiting, she asked the coach for permission to join in during the morning sessions. At this time, she had no knowledge of the Masters swimming structure and had no thoughts of competing, but enjoyed training. After about six months she entered her first competition as a Masters swimmer and won all the events she entered.
Flora began to improve and dominate her competition during the following years. In 1980, Scotland held their first National Championships and Flora won all five events that she entered. The following year, her coach changed her breaststroke to the modern version and she was surprised to find out that with her new technique she broke the world record in the 100 meter event. It was her first world record.
Most of the competitions that Flora enters are in Great Britain, but she has competed in two World Games held in Canada and in two competitions held in the United States. She attended these meets because she was able to combine holiday visits to see friends and family members with swimming competitions.
Flora has been awarded lifetime memberships in both of her swimming clubs (Dundee and Edinburgh), and was honored by the Scottish Amateur Swimming Association with an award for outstanding achievement in Masters swimming.
John Deininger (USA) Honor Diver
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: 30 FINA MASTERS WORLD DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1m, 3m springboard and 10m platform; Since 1974, he has competed in seven age groups (35-39 thru 65-69);
John Deininger, born in 1939, grew up on the downtown streets of Cincinnati, Ohio. He attributes his early tumbling and acrobatic efforts to the local YMCA and his positive outlook on life to the Junior Optimist Club of Cincinnati. He transformed his acrobatic moves on the mat in the gymnasium to the diving board in the swimming pool. The board became a natural outlet for somersaults and twists and John became attached to the sensation of being airborne.
John became an Ohio state high school champion which paved the way for college scholarships at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and then at the University of Washington in Seattle. John was a Junior National Champion at Michigan and a Collegiate All-American at Washington where he was undefeated while competing in the West Coast Pac Eight League.
Aspiring to be an architect and in order to finance his last years of architectural studies, John became a professional diver. Performances from levels of 100 to 130 feet paid good money! However, now as a professional, his hopes of Olympic glory were ended, but a new chapter in his diving career began. Professional diving offered travel, show business, and funding and took his diving career to new heights…literally. He won the World’s professional High Diving Championships in 1964 and achieved top honors in professional contests in Florida, Las Vegas and Canada. John performed in water-shows and professional diving contests during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, developing a zany knack for the comedy side of aquatic entertainment, too.
After graduating from college, John concentrated on developing his architecture practice. John Deininger Architects A.I.A. employs the discipline and sometimes the humor that he developed in diving to express in the built-environment.
When the idea of a Master’s Diving program emerged, John was quick to embrace the ideals of Sport for Life! In 1974 he helped organize and participated in the first Masters National Championship. For the past 31 years, he has been a fervent supporter of the Master’s Diving concept. John was President of U.S. Masters Diving for six years and Rules Chairman for four years. He was on the Board of Directors for USA Diving for 6 years and has been a trustee for the USA Diving Foundation for the past six years. He has traveled the United States and the World, competing, organizing, and being a spokesman of sports for adults and Master’s diving. He is currently president of the World Acrobatics Society, a group dedicated to preserving the histories and accomplishments of acrobatic legends throughout the world.
His positive message to others is underlined by the ideals of ‘doing by example’. His ever-present participation in USA National Masters Championships has earned him over 160 National Championship medals (119 gold, 35 silver, 7 bronze). He has been a constant force in the international diving scene obtaining 38 medals in Fina World Masters competitions (22 gold, 11 silver, 5 bronze). Along with these medals John has won championship titles at many international Masters diving events held in countries such as: Canada, Brazil, Great Britain, Norway, Finland, Lithuania, and Ireland. Along the way John has established 13 USA National Records and 12 World Records.
John currently enjoys a very active lifestyle. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his life-mate Carol Ann. Their combined family of 4 adult children and six grandchildren all live within the Seattle area. John still maintains an architectural practice with U.S. and international projects. At the age of 65, John attributes much of his good fortune and well being to his participation in the Masters Diving Program. He intends to continue until further notice!
Burwell "Bumpy" Jones (USA) Honor Swimmer
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 640, Pre-1986 Points – 342, Total Points – 982; Since 1972, he has competed in eight age groups (35-39 thru 70-74); 39 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS;
At the age of five, a young Bumpy Jones started swim racing, embarking on an illustrious career that would span over 70 years, setting world records as a collegiate swimmer and again years later as a Masters swimmer.
Bumpy has taken part in many swimming firsts. He competed in the first Pan American Games in 1951 winning gold and bronze medals, was the first world record holder in the 400 individual medley when a fourth butterfly stroke was added, and competed during the first year of Masters swimming in the United States in 1971.
Born in Detroit in 1933, Bumpy chose swimming over other sports and music. At age 12, he enrolled at Matt Mann’s swimming camp, Chikopi, located in Ontario Canada, where over the next several summer seasons he rose from camper to counselor. This began a lifetime coaching relationship with Matt that developed while he swam for Redford High School and continued into college at the University of Michigan. While attending Redford, he would sometimes drive from Detroit to Ann Arbor to swim with the many Michigan All Americans coached by Matt.
Bumpy was a high school and college All-American and a three time NCAA champion at the University of Michigan. He was a member of the 1952 Olympic gold medal winning 4x200 meter freestyle relay swimming in the preliminary heats. He competed on U.S. teams in Bermuda, Japan, and England. He set three world records in the 400 individual medley. In 1954, Jones was elected captain of Michigan’s Swim Team and was a Sullivan Award nominee. During these years, he swam part time under other Hall of Fame coaches including Bob Kiphuth at Yale, Soichi Sakamoto at Hawaii, Mike Peppe at Ohio State and Gus Stager at Michigan.
In 1959, Bumpy graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and then interned in Ann Arbor for one year. In the summer of 1960, after a five year retirement from swimming, he spent one month training for the Olympic Trials in Detroit. His time in the 200 meter freestyle greatly improved from 1952, but the best swimmers in the country were also much faster. After failing to make the finals, he retired from swimming again and spent his next years in residency at the University of Virginia, in the Air Force, and finally at Duke University. It was during this time that he became an accomplished golfer, winning 28 state and local tournaments.
In 1965, Bumpy moved to Sarasota where he began and continues his private practice in Dermatology.
When Masters swimming began in 1971, it was thought to be a get-together party for former swimmers. But that soon changed from not only being a fun gathering, but also a highly competitive challenge too. During his Masters career, which began at age 38, Bumpy has won 110 National Masters Championships, 5 Fina Masters World Championships, 7 Canadian and 22 YMCA championships. He has set 39 FINA Masters World Records and 145 Masters National Records. During his Masters career he has 38 number one, 18 number two and 10 number three Masters world rankings. His Masters times nearly equaled his best collegiate times. His competition has always been tough and the camaraderie has been at its best.
Betsy Jordan (USA) Honor Swimmer
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 1251, Pre-1986 Points – 151, Total Points – 1402; Since 1973, she has competed in seven age groups (35-39 thru 65-69); 38 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS;
Betsy grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, where her family’s daily visits to swimming pools became a summer custom. Her mother taught her to swim at age five, and later revealed that no matter how hard she tried to teach her the front crawl, Betsy floundered helplessly with her rear sticking up in the air and her arms flailing. However, when she flipped her daughter over on her back, Betsy was buoyant and smooth. She was a natural backstroker.
Around age 9, when Betsy was little and scrawny, she wanted desperately to be like her older sister and join the Riviera Club swim team. The coach, surprisingly said no, and suggested she go home and grow a while. Incensed, she joined the rival and then fledgling Indianapolis Athletic Club team, where she trained and competed regularly in local, state, and national meets until she left for college in 1955.
Betsy remembers this time as a golden era for swimming – no butterfly, no pace clocks, no goggles, no time standards for entries to nationals, but there was great team spirit. Sometimes the team swam away- meets in stone quarries, with racing lanes attached to a turn board in the middle. If the ropes shrank, pulling the turn board closer to the start, times were unusually good. Every spring, the Athletic Club always had “lifesaving season,” when the team practiced hair carries and cross chest carries and had to bring up their bulky coach from the bottom of the pool as a test. The team performed water shows to raise money to travel to out-of-town meets, and some tried what was then called “water ballet.”
During her first nine years of competition with the IAC (1947-1955), Betsy had many highlights. She set a national AAU 200 yard backstroke record and won a 3-mile national junior lake swim (swimming backstroke). She placed second several times at Senior Nationals in backstroke events, and in 1952 was a member of a 150 meter medley relay team that set an American record.
Before Title IX, there was hardly any opportunity for women to swim in college, and by 1955 Betsy had decided to focus on academia, attending Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She graduated in 1959 and continued the study of art history at Harvard where she received an M.A. in 1960.
After graduating, Betsy began raising her four children, and in 1971 she decided to try swimming again. She joined the San Diego Swim Masters team, swimming in both the pool and the ocean. Her masters swimming balanced out her further academic pursuits in a plan to stave off atrophy in both body and brain. She completed a Ph.D. in English Literature in 1985. From 1985-2000, Betsy taught full time in the Humanities Program at U.C. San Diego. The work was both intellectually and psychologically fulfilling.
Eventually there was a masters swim program at UCSD, and she was able to exercise both her mind and body on campus. She still teaches one seminar at UCSD each year. Presently involved in writing a children’s book about Dante, Betsy still studies to improve her fluency in Italian.
Over her career as a masters swimmer, Betsy has set more than 100 national and world records, both individually and as a member of relays. As she moves up, each new age group has presented a welcome challenge. She would like to keep working out and competing as long as she can. She values all of her teammates; over the years they have become a close-knit and loyal group. Betsy and her husband Peter Riddle continue to compete in long distance races and try to find some aquatic event to pair up with a visit to children and grandchildren spread across the U.S. Betsy loves the fact that with a regular exercise program she can eat what she likes and enjoy life to the fullest. Through swimming, she learned the value of sportsmanship, to schedule her time wisely, and how to lose gracefully. Betsy wants to continue to be a good representative of Masters swimming, valuing the fairness, fun, and fellowship that it has afforded her.
William McAlister (USA) Honor Diver
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: 142 GOLD MEDALS IN US NATIONAL AND FINA MASTERS WORLD DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1m, 3m springboard and 10m platform; Since 1974, he competed in six age groups (60-64 thru 85-89); Known as “Father of Masters Diving”;
Born in 1910, Bill McAlister became a living legend in the diving world before passing away in 2000 at the age of 89. He envisioned diving as a sport that should include members of all ages and was instrumental in the formation of Masters Diving in 1973. He was the Masters Diving Chairman from 1977-1981, and founder of the Masters Diving Newsletter. He competed in almost every U.S. Masters Championship since 1973, earning over 142 gold medals in national and international competition. Bill’s final year of competition occurred in 1998 when at age 89 he won gold medals in both springboard and platform competition.
Bill began his diving career after winning a membership to the Long Beach YMCA as a bonus from his paper route. YMCA coach Shorty Kellogg saw his talent in gymnastics and diving and took him under his wing. He coached Bill diving off a 1920-vintage wooden diving board, which was described as an “old chunk of wood.” Nearby, at the Pacific Coast Club, there was an indoor pool with both 1 meter and 3 meter wooden buck boards. The ceiling in the pool was so low that Bill was forced to hold his hands over his head so as not to bump the ceiling too hard. If lucky, he would get a good bounce and end up under the skylight, missing the ceiling.
At the age of 22, Bill competed in the Olympic Trials of 1932 placing seventh on the 3 meter springboard. He dove against the worlds best divers of the time, all of whom made up the US Olympic Team: Johnny Riley, Marshall Wayne, Al Green, Dutch Smith, Frank Kurtz and Dick Degener. It was during this time that Bill developed a new dive, a front somersault with a full twist, then ducking it in for a 11/2. The only twisting dive at the time was a required standing forward dive with a full twist. Bill asked Johnny Riley to watch him do the first one and it must have been quite a sight. Bill became one of the first to perform this new dive which became known as the “5132”.
Bill was an innovator in the use of the trampoline for improving diving. Under the coaching of Capt. J.D. Loop during Bill’s early diving career, he trained on a crude trampoline made with cotton rope, an old piece of circus equipment left over from Long Beach Harbor. It had a wooden frame and nets all around to keep people from falling off. Bill joked that you could do all your dives on the trampoline and “not get wet”. Bill introduced Marshall Wayne to the trampoline in 1932 and Marshall won an Olympic diving gold medal in Berlin four years later.
Bill worked at the YMCA’s in Fullerton and Fresno, before settling in Madera in 1958 where he was the swimming and diving coach at Madera High School. He also began an AAU program for swimming and diving. Although he retired from full-time teaching in 1973, McAlister stayed on as coach at Madera until 1989. He coached the High School team for thirty-one years and the pool there has since been named in his honor. Divers throughout the valley would come to his country home to learn proper techniques on the much-improved trampolines in his “Bouncing Barn” an old barn-type structure with a high ceiling located at his home. He loved working with children and helping them to develop their skills.
Bill’s family has also been involved in swimming and diving. His wife Carol coached him from the deck for his Masters diving and his five children all participated in swimming and diving. His daughter Barbara won seven Senior National titles in springboard diving, competed in the 1963 Pan American Games winning the 3m springboard gold medal and was twice an Olympic finalist (1964 and 1968). His youngest son Rick won the 1974 NCAA 3 meter springboard title while at the Air Force Academy. Son Donny was a four-time Valley champion and an All-American and Bob was a California state junior college champion at Fresno City College. Bill’s coaching and support lead to many successful finishes for most of his athletes over the years.
Bill was the foundation upon which Masters diving was built and grew. He is known affectionately today as the “Father of Masters Diving”.
Sandy Neilson-Bell (USA) Honor Swimmer
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 982, Pre-1986 Points – 56, Total Points – 984; Since 1981, she has competed in five age groups (25-29 thru 45-49); 43 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS;
Sandy Neilson was raised in the small Southern California town of El Monte. At the age of 10, she began swimming for the El Monte Aquatics Club coached by Don LaMont. Only five years later at age 15 in 1971, she set the American Record in the 100 yard freestyle and won gold medals in the 100 meter freestyle and 400 meter freestyle relay, at the Pan American Games in Cali, Columbia. She also won the silver medal in the 400 meter medley relay.
The next year, truly as a dark horse at age 16 in preparing for the 1972 Olympic Games, Sandy qualified third on the U.S. team in the 100 meter freestyle swimming at the U.S. Olympic Trials. In Munich, she surprised everyone when she went on to win three Olympic gold medals in the 100 meter freestyle and both relays. In order to win the 100 meter freestyle, Sandy had to beat the favorites: the world’s top woman swimmer Shane Gould (Australia) and the top American woman swimmer Shirley Babashoff. But by winning the 100 freestyle, Neilson earned her place on the relay teams and led off the freestyle relay and anchored the medley relay to world records.
Sandy retired shortly after her 1972 Olympic triumph, but decided to try Masters swimming nine years later, after she took a job coaching the Industry Hills Masters and seeing how much fun her swimmers were having. She won “all” in the 25-29 age group setting records in the freestyle and individual medley. Soon after, at a U.S. Masters Nationals, she met her future husband, sports psychologist and highly accomplished Masters swimmer, Dr. Keith Bell.
Keith began coaching Sandy and encouraged her to swim both Masters and U.S. Senior swimming, suggesting that a good goal would be to break the world record. She set her sights on making the 1988 Olympic Team. From ages 28 to 32, she swam on both Masters and USS Senior Elite levels, setting records in Masters while making progress for “the old folks” in U.S. and international swimming, too. At age 32, Sandy, ranked
internationally while swimming in the U.S.S. Senior Elite Program, changing the swimming world’s thinking of what is old… move over Phil Niekro, Pete Rose, Walter Spence, Arne Borg!
Sandy was the first ever 30, 35 and 39 year old qualifying to swim at the U.S. National Championships. She was the first woman Masters swimmer to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials at ages 32 and 36. In the 1988 trials, she just missed the team with a time that would have finaled at the Seoul Olympics. Sandy was the first woman over age 30 and again at age 35 to break a minute in the 100 meter freestyle. While accruing over 75 Masters National Championships, 72 Masters National Records and 43 Fina Masters World Records, Sandy was at the same time the first woman to compete on the National elite level in three different decades, usually competing against girls half her age. In Masters ranks, she has scored 75 number one, 26 number two and 16 number three world rankings.
Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1986 for her Olympic and international achievements pre-Masters, Sandy is also a member of the Helms Hall of Fame, El Monte School Hall of Fame, and the UC Santa Barbara Gaucho Hall of Fame.
As a mother of four, and grandmother of two, she runs the company that publishes and markets her husband’s sports psychology and swimming books. She coaches a summer club of 200 kids and along with her husband, Keith, she has been devoted to teaching & coaching adults over the last couple of decades. They have started six different adult teams together and won numerous USMS National Team Championships.
Richard Reinstaedtler (GER) Honor Swimmer,
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 901, Pre-1986 Points – 0, Total Points – 901; Since 1970, he has competed in seven age groups (60-65 thru 90-94); 43 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS;
In 1924, at the age of twelve, young Richard Reinstaedtler joined the swim club ‘Freie Schwimmer Duesseldorf’ where he learned to swim. Although his main emphasis was in swimming and handball, a talented athlete, Richard also participated in diving, water polo and track & field. As he got older, Richard was able to mix his sports training with a technician apprenticeship while he prepared for engineering college. In 1933, Hitler started the coordination of all sport clubs and Richard was able to place a sport emphasis on swimming and water polo in Duesseldorf’s swim club ‘DSC 98’, and handball in Germany’s best league ‘TUS Gerresheim.’
In the meantime, he finished engineering college and in 1936 started working in a rolling-mill and hydraulic compressor producing company in Duesseldorf. World War II greatly affected his professional and athletic careers as he was called to army service in the fall of 1943. During the next year, he was assigned to work on technical standards for the V2 at Wernher von Braun Military Service Arsenal in Pennemuende.
He was married in July of 1944 and in September, he was delegated to Vienna’s technical college, where he worked with Prof. Loesel on the development of a portable power station. He remained there until the end of the war, and then four weeks later he was able to return to his old company in Duesseldorf. Throughout these turbulent years there was hardly time for intense physical activity.
After the war he restarted his swimming, water polo, and handball careers at his former club ‘Freie Schwimmer’ and began to take part in the first swimming competitions that later became Masters meets and championships. In 1958, he competed in his first German Swimming Championship for older folks and placed second in his age group in the 50m backstroke. He has taken part in 40 German Masters Championships for long and short course competitions winning 46 German titles and 48 vice titles. He has competed in many foreign swim championships in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Austria.
His job as chief engineer of the company required extended travel abroad to South-East Europe, North and South America, Africa, and China, not allowing him the time to swim.
However, with his retirement at age 65 in 1974, he was able to spend more time focusing on swimming and competing in international events. At the first unofficial Masters World Championships in Toronto in 1985 he placed second in the 50 meter, 100 meter, and 200 meter backstroke events, as well as in the diving event. The following year at the second unofficial World Championships in Brisbane he won the 50 meter, 100 meter, and 200 meter backstroke and placed third in the 50 meter freestyle and 200 meter individual medley. At that meet he set four World records in his age group (75-79) in the backstroke events and in the 100 meter individual medley.
Since that time Richard has competed in five European Championships, winning 18 European and 10 Vice European titles. He has competed in six Fina Masters World Championships with 30 individual starts, winning 17 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 3 bronze medals.
Richard has set 43 Fina Masters World Records. One of his greatest successes is listed in the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records when he broke 6 World records in one day at Ingelheim in 1997.
In 2003 at the age of 90, Richard achieved the requirements for the German Sports Certificate of the German Sports Association (DSB) for the thirty-first time. Since the last listed requirements are for the 75-80 age group, he had to achieve the requirements for this much-younger age group, fifteen years his junior.
In Fina Masters competition, Richard has acquired 75 number one, 38 number two and 24 number three world rankings.
Tod Spieker (USA) Honor Swimmer
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 753, Pre-1986 Points – 100, Total Points – 852; Since 1977, he has competed in seven age groups (25-29 thru 55-59); 30 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS;
Tod Spieker is a humble, reserved, fun-loving, compatible Masters swimmer who competes and trains in the water with the intensity of a lion, the consistency of an elephant and the methodical approach of a leopard. During his 28 year Masters swimming career, he has set 30 Fina Masters World Records, won 24 Fina Masters World Championships and won 20 U.S. Masters Swimming National Championships, accumulating 852 total Masters points with all of these achievements, he credits everyone else for his success.
Tod began swimming competitively at the age of eight as a member of the Palo Alto Swim Club in California, but it was not until four years later at the age of twelve that he won his first race. It proved that hard work and consistency pays off- the inspiration that Tod uses to excel in his swimming, business and life today.
An outstanding swimmer and water polo player at Menlo Atherton High School, Tod was a two-time High School All- American in three events during his junior and senior years. He won 40 duel meet high school races without losing. Tod’s high school coach, Bob Gaughren said, “Tod was an outstanding high school swimmer who was the hardest working kid on the team. Once before a big meet, he slipped in the locker room creating a huge cut on his eye. The team doctor stitched him up and Tod went on to swim the 200 yard and 400 yard freestyles and helped us win. He won the “most courageous award that year”.
Tod was a collegiate letterman at UCLA, receiving All-American honors in the backstroke his senior year. College coach Bob Horn calls Tod “dedicated and tough, and the most loyal Bruin through and through”.
Tod has had the occasion to work with Hall of Fame coach Richard Quick who says, “It’s inspirational for me to be around Tod because he is so driven and is willing to try new things in his swimming and training, even though he has been doing this a very long time and very successfully.”
His Hall of Fame coach Nort Thornton said, “I coached Tod as an age grouper and have known him since he was nine years old. He was always figuring his splits, a number cruncher who knew where he needed to be on every lap, on all his strokes. He has never lost his enthusiasm for swimming. It is a great passion for him. He is about as much as a
swimming nut as you can get. I really appreciate Tod, he is a rare individual.”
They all talk about his commitment to swimming and desire to give back to the sport.
Tod’s father, Warren, calls Tod, “A very disciplined person. It was his inspiration to work hard to be the best at something. He’s been a success in business because of it, too.”
At age 28 in 1977, Tod entered his first Masters swim meet and now has competed in seven consecutive age groups. He swims for the Olympic Club Masters but does most of his training with the Rinconada Masters. Says Rinconada coach Carol Tait McPherson, “Tod trains very hard and is all business in the pool. You don’t talk to Tod in the middle of a set and you don’t mess around in workouts. We are very proud of him.” Olympic
Club Masters coach Scott Williams commented, “it’s been a real pleasure to coach him because he’s taught me how to be a real coach.”
Tod remembers his first Masters Nationals in 1977. It was a hazy morning at the Hall of Fame Pool in Fort Lauderdale when he swam the 200 yard backstroke and won the race, setting a National record and swimming a few seconds better than the month before. It was a success that Tod worked to achieve again and again over the years.
Since 1986, Tod has accumulated 51 first place, 30 second place and 25 third place Masters world rankings in all events except butterfly and breaststroke. He has competed in seven Masters World Championships since 1986, winning 20 gold medals.
Phil Whitten (USA) Honor Contributor
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: Editor-in-Chief of SWIM, Swimming World and Swimming Technique magazines since 1992; and SwimInfo.com since 1996; Author of The Complete Book of Swimming, (1994); Masters swimming competitor since 1972; Promoter of Masters swimming for fitness and health
Dr. Phillip Whitten, Editor-in-Chief of SWIM, Swimming World, and Swimming Technique magazines since 1992; SwimInfo.com since 1996; and as Chief Media Officer of Sports Publications International, the producer of the soon-to-be inaugurated Swimming World T.V., is one of the world’s leading advocates for the sport of swimming and for swimmers at all levels, from young age group to elite to Masters.
He was born in Philadelphia and spent most of his early years in New York in a Quonset hut and later in tenement apartments in the Bronx. At age 13 and the oldest of four children, he moved with his family to California. Being athletically inclined, he went out for the junior varsity swim team at Livermore High School but missed the cut. Two years later he made the varsity team by the skin of his teeth. By his senior year, he became a nationally ranked breaststroker in the boy’s 15-16 age group in AAU swimming and led his high school team to an undefeated season, a league championship, and a strong showing at the North Coast championships. At age 16, Phil ended his high school career as his school’s first All-American athlete, a National Merit and Westinghouse Science scholarship winner, and his class Salutatorian.
Phil attended San Jose State University and during his three years of varsity swimming, the Spartans were undefeated, beating Stanford, Cal and UCLA each year. He earned All-America honors and was elected co-captain in his senior year. In 1961, he represented the USA at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, winning a silver medal. While at San Jose, he became a leader of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements in both the Bay Area and nationally. He co-founded one of the first “underground newspapers” of the era, The New Student.
After earning a double bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in different disciplines from San Jose State, Phil won a scholarship to Harvard University, where he was elected President of the Harvard Graduate Student Association. While working for the Harvard Center for the Study of Conflict and Social Change, he started two relief organizations that flew food and medical supplies to refuges and ended up saving 3000 children from war torn Nigeria. A field hospital established by one of Phil's organizations -- the International Committee for Nigeria-Biafra Relief -- to treat refuge children in the Ivory Coast became one of the largest hospitals in West Africa.
Phil returned to California, taking a job as Associate Publisher of CRM Inc., a small, innovative publishing company. Eight months later, he was named Publisher, and when CRM opened a film division, Phil was appointed Executive Producer. The division produced four educational films in its first year, two of which won coveted awards as the year’s best and most innovative educational films. Then, with other CRM executives, Phil moved to Connecticut to found a new publishing company, eventually acquired by CBS.
Phil chose to be a stay-at-home dad and worked as a freelance writer and editor while raising his son, Russell. He completed his doctoral dissertation, and contributed to many magazines including Swimming World. He took teaching jobs at Endicott College, Bentley College and then Harvard University, while still continuing to write. At Bentley and Harvard he won outstanding teaching awards.
Phil joined Masters Swimming in December 1971 and has trained regularly since then. An active member of New England Masters, he served on the board for more than a dozen years. He also began writing more about Masters swimming as he came to understand the revolutionary potential the activity held for lifelong health and fitness. Along the way he set several national and world Masters records in the 40-44, 45-49, and 50-54 age groups.
In 1978, he wrote a feature story on Masters swimming for the mass-circulated “Parade” magazine, a supplement to hundreds of Sunday newspapers across the U.S. The article was so popular that US Masters president Ted Haartz recounts how 13,000 letters, requesting additional information, arrived at Haartz’s doorstep. Eventually, over 30,000
letters found their way to Ted. It took a team of volunteers five months to answer all the questions.
In 1992, he published the first results of a longitudinal study of Masters swimming using data that went back to 1975. In this study, he discovered that Masters swimmers did not experience the average one percent per year physiological decline that begins in most of the population at age 25. Masters swimmers actually improved until age 32 or 33, then declined very gradually, not reaching one percent decline until their seventies! Phil’s study showed physiological decline to be the consequence of an inactive lifestyle, not just natural aging.
In 1992 Phil accepted the position of Editor-in-Chief of Sports Publications which publishes Swimming World and SwimInfo.com.
Phil has remained swimming’s most persistent advocate, maintaining that this is the sport of a lifetime. Since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five years ago, he has continued to swim and compete, maintaining that swimming has been key in forestalling the progression of the disease. A study published in October 2004, was the first to corroborate the link between regular exercise and forestalling the progression of Parkinson’s.
Over the years, Phil has authored or co-authored 18 books and 600 major articles on a wide variety of topics, and has appeared on television (including the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Dateline,” etc.) and radio (including NPR) and lectured throughout the United States and overseas on swimming, fitness, health and the aging process. He has published pioneering studies on exercise, aging and sexuality, and on the effects of exercise in forestalling biological and psychological aging.
In 1993 and '94, he took the lead on the Chinese doping issue, writing a series of articles that proved beyond a doubt that spectacular Chinese performances were largely due to an organized program of doping. The revelations led directly to the establishment of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
He also published the first files taken from the Stasi -- the East German secret police -- proving that all world-class East German swimmers had been systematically doped as a matter of national policy.
He also has written important articles on the unintended effects of Title IX, minorities in swimming, swimming and academic performance and much more.