World Masters Spotlight: Karl Hauter & Maurine Kornfeld

(L-R) Karl Hauter and Maurine Kornfeld

2017 Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year

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Swimming World Magazine has been recognizing the Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year for the last 14 years. Running from April 2nd through April 7th the staff at Swimming World will be shining a spotlight on the accomplishments of our Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year.

Karl Hauter, GER (90-94)

German Karl Hauter earned the nickname, “Water Rat,” after teaching himself to swim in a river at age 5. His family was displaced when he was 12 because of World War II. In his new hometown of Pirmasens, Germany, he joined a local swim club. He trained with the breaststrokers and later competed into the 1942-43 Youth Nationals.

Hauter was a prisoner of war, but somehow managed to keep swimming every Sunday morning at a local Scottish Swim Club. After the War, Hauter prioritized his work above his swimming, but in 1973, he was roped back in. Hauter was asked to be part of a relay at Germany’s Masters National Championships. He said yes, and his relay took gold. From 1973 forward, Hauter competed religiously in the national championship meet. In 1986, Hauter began attending Masters World Championships. He was a regular at Worlds through 2010. In 2009, Hauter was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame.

Now 93 years old, Hauter is still swimming and annihilating world records. Hauter trains twice each week as part of the Speyer Swimming Club (the team he’s been with for 15 years). His workouts consist of 400 meters of butter y, 500 meters of backstroke, 500 meters of breaststroke and 500 meters of freestyle. He sprints at least 100 meters of each stroke.

Last season, he set four world records—three short course (200 free, 3:27.14; 200 breast, 4:21.52; and 200 IM, 4:17.75) and one long course (200 breast, 4:41.26).

So why does Hauter keep swimming? “I do swimming because I feel it’s the best way to keep in health, and it helps to become a good age.”

Maurine Kornfeld, USA (95-99)

You may wonder how a 96-year-old trains to break Masters world records. Maurine Kornfeld’s secret lies in survival: “If you can’t outswim them, outlive them!”

Kornfeld stumbled into Masters swimming by accident in her 50s when lifeguards barred her from her workout due to practice conflicts with the Masters team. Pretending to know about swim competition, Kornfeld swiftly joined the team to get pool time. The rest is history.

When asked about her favorite part of practice, she quickly answered, “Sometimes on these mornings, the hot shower!”

All joking aside, she loves swimming for the Rose Bowl Masters team in Pasadena, Calif. because of the magnificent sunrise over the mountainous backdrop and the teammates who have become family. “It’s not much fun getting up at 5 a.m. and fighting the freeways, but it’s always worth it. I love my teammates. Win, lose or draw, people are always supportive of you. I tell the other swimmers that they’re my extended family—my adopted granddaughters and grandsons.”

Kornfeld also secretly loves the medals she wins and tells a hilarious anecdote: “I hung my first medals on my doorknob, and guess what happens? They pulled the door off its hinges, and I had to call the carpenter to fix it. That’s the price of vanity. Now they get a short term on the knob, and go down to the garage.”

Her daily training paid off last season with eight Masters world records for her age group. Seven of them came in short course competition—50-100-200-400-800 free (1:04.68, 2:29.17, 5:06.73, 10:08.44, 20:57.02) and 100-200 back (2:42.88, 5:58.95). At the World Masters Championships in Budapest, Kornfeld added a long course mark in the 800 free (21:39.10).



  1. avatar

    We love you Mo! Signed everyone at the RBAC

  2. avatar
    Vera Gillis

    Maurine, I was shocked to see this, I never knew of your wonderful accomplishments, my name is Vera, the lady from Nova Scotia who appears at the RBAC every year. I will be there next week and hope to see you. Love Vera