An Interview With Ted Haartz
One of USMS's longest serving volunteers
Frederick H. "Ted" Haartz of Sudbury, Mass., one of the pioneers of Masters swimming in New England and the second president of U.S. Masters, will turn 65 this April 23, less than a month before the 1993 short-course nationals in Santa Clara, Calif. At that meet, one can confidently predict, Ted will make significant inroads into the New England all-time Short-course Top Tens for the Men's 65-69 division, thereby adding to his present record of most listings, in the aggregate, in the New England all-time short-course Top Tens. Ted holds a place,indeed a high place, in both the 55-59 and 60-64 divisions in every one of the 18 events for which records are maintained, plus many places in the 45-49 and 50-54 divisions as well. At the NEM meets at Brown and BU (and probably others) this past fall, Ted served as a volunteer, unpaid official in addition to competing. Last year he served as Barr Clayson 's replacement as chairman of the New England Local Masters Swim Committee prior to Diane Reed 's taking over last fall. Before that he served as sanctions chairman for New England. Wasn't it John Quincy Adams who served a term in the US House of Representatives after serving as president?
A review of past issues of NEM News discloses a surprising fact: Although over the years Ted has been featured in innumerable newspaper pieces on Masters swimming and is pictured in the 1987 National Masters calendar (see picture above), until now he has never been the subject of a NEM News profile. To remedy this deficiency, Liz Adams and Jim Edwards interviewed Ted.
Liz: What can you tell us about your high school swimming?
Ted: Nothing. There was no team and no pool at my school (Somerville H.S., class of 1946). I played the trumpet in our school band and orchestra, developing a stiff upper lip (and lower one too).
Liz: Well, how about college?
Ted: I swam at Tufts University 1947-1950. The 200-yard breaststroke was my best event. I set the school record of 2:45.6 in 1950, which stood for about six years. We were not a school of outstanding breaststrokers, and the only reason I was swimming it was because nobody else could or would. All this time I still believed I was a freestyler, the slow man on the 4 x 100 relay.
Liz: What do you consider your most noteworthy college swimming experience?
Ted: Winning the Ted Appel Award for the most improved swimmer in 1950.
Liz: When did you first get involved in Masters swimming and how did that come about?
Ted: I was already swimming at least three times a week in the friendly noon-time workouts at the Waltham (Mass.) Boys' Club, when the results of the first national Masters meet held in Amarillo, Texas, in 1970, appeared in Swimming World. How four of us entered the 1971 meet in Amarillo, drove Hal Onusseit 's VW camper non-stop out and back, and placed third as a team is another story. (See box on page five and newspaper story on page six). Needless to say, I was hooked.
Liz: What are your most memorable and/or noteworthy Masters swims?
Ted: Winning the 100 IM in Amarillo in 1972 and the 200 IM in San Mateo in 1973. Setting world records in the 100-meter breaststroke in the 55-59 division in 1983 (1:22.57) and the 200-meter (short-course) in the 60-64 division in 1989 (3:09.24).
Jim: How frequently do you work out, and what is the makeup of your typical workout?
Ted: My goal has been to swim 365 miles a year, which equates to average workouts of 2,700 yards swimming two out of every three days over the course of a year. My favorite workout has always been a 3,000 yarder, made up of 4 x 250 on four minutes, 4 x 200 on 3:15, 4 x 150 on 2:30, 4 x 100 on 1:45, and 4 x 50 on :60. Each one is faster than the previous one in each series of four, and I do this set with a pull buoy. Ten years ago I could do these with 15 seconds less rest. And there is no extra rest between each of the distances. I also do this set in breaststroke, alternating swimming and kicking each sub-set of four.
Liz: How would you summarize your reasons for participating in the Masters program?
Ted: Obviously, Masters means much to me. The friendships have been very important. It's great exercise, even though the joints are protesting more as I age. The pool has been for me a place to go to get away from the pressures of daily living. I like the idea that I am healthier than I might otherwise be due to the regular exercise and 30-plus years of chlorine antiseptic treatment.
Liz: Is it fair to say that you have been a frequent participant in most national championship meets?
Ted: Yes, I have competed in every short-course nationals since 1971 and every long- course nationals since 1973.
Jim: Probably some NEM News readers are unaware of your national-level Masters administrative responsibilities. Do you mind telling us about them?
Ted: In 1972 I undertook the responsibility of maintaining the national top-tens, and after Hal Onusseit's untimely death in 1975 I took on the additional duty of maintaining the national records. I served as National Masters Secretary in 1977 and as USMS President from 1978 through 1981. In 1976 I received the Captain Ransom J. Arthur Award. I am still active in U.S. Masters administration on both national and local levels and in U.S. Swimming. I have attended every USMS convention since 1974.
Jim: Ted, what do you look back on as the principal accomplishments while you were president of USMS?
Ted: We were instrumental in chartering and incorporating USMS as a not-for-profit public corporation at the time Congress broke up the AAU sports monopoly. Masters swimming was a part of AAU prior to that. We established the 55 Local Masters Swim Committees (LMSC's), secured tax identification numbers for each and tax-exempt status from the IRS for USMS and its LMSC's and we secured separate liability, accident, and directors/officers insurance coverage.
Jim: Some NEM News readers may not be aware of Phil Whitten's Parade Magazine article on Masters swimming which appeared while you were national president. Would you tell us about that?
Ted: I received and answered—with untold hours of help from my family, Enid and Bill Uhrich, Ed Reed, Sr., and other volunteers across the country-some 14,000 inquiries about Masters swimming, which were a direct result of an article entitled "Old Masters of Swimming" written by my good friend, Phil Whitten. The article appeared in the May 20, 1979, national Sunday newspaper supplement, Parade Magazine. In Phil's article he mentioned something to the effect that many Masters were finding that a swimming program enhanced their sex life. The crucial sentence in his article was, "To learn more about Masters swimming, send a SASE to Ted Haartz, National Chairman, AAU Masters Swimming, 155 Pantry Road, Sudbury, MA 01776." And do you know what? That article keeps resurfacing! The latest inquiry to Ted Haartz, AAU Masters Swimming, was received in August last year.
Ted: Yes, from 1951-1953, mainly at Camp Drake, about a 30 minute drive from Tokyo. There were three outdoor pools on base, and I worked out occasionally. Nothing serious.
Jim: When were you married?
Ted: In May, 1955, I was married to Alicia (Lee) Daniels of South Portland, Maine. Lee recently retired as the administrative secretary of the Curtis Junior High in Sudbury. Her retirement day was officially proclaimed "Lee Haartz Day" in Sudbury.
Jim: What children have you and Lee had and to what extent have they been involved in competitive athletics?
Ted: We have three sons: Douglas (1957), Alexander (1959), and Benjamin (1965). Doug took up water polo; Andy swam until he beat all my times and then became a 5K to marathon distance runner; and Ben swam 500s where I never could compete. Three smart kids!
Jim: You retired a little before Lee did. What had you been doing, and how and where do you expect to keep busy now?
Ted: Yes, I retired January 31, 1992, and Lee on November 30, 1992. You might say that I had been company ombudsman and vice-president-manufacturing for The Haartz Corporation in Acton, Mass. The company produces engineered automotive and marine-coated products. We expect to spend four to six months (winter and spring) in Green Valley, Ariz. A new routine is yet to evolve.
Jim: Have you set any goal(s) for the 1993 short-course nationals?
Ted: To do as well as "old bod" will allow. Neither shoulders nor knees are currently hurting, so I'll go on the premise that they will be usable for breaststroke in 1993. My expectations for 1993 are minimal after 1992.
Jim: Ted, in your replies to Liz's questions, you said the 1971 expedition to Amarillo was "another story." Tell it now!
Ted: OK, you asked for it. In May, 1971, Hal Onusseit, an electronics engineer; Ed Reed, Jr., then swimming coach at Tufts and now at Brown; Warren French, then Waltham Boys Club coach; and I left in Hal's under-powered VW camper from the junction of 128 and the Mass Pike about 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday before the meet.
We drove non-stop to Oklahoma City, where Warren and I finally prevailed on Hal and Ed to stop and get a motel room for what was left of the second night. Hal and Ed could sleep through a 7.5 earthquake, while Warren and I heard and felt every seam in the cement highways through the Midwest.
This was also my first experience as to how the swim teams saved money on lodging four to a room with one double bed (two on the mattress and two on the box spring)! Hal had requested that the VW not be driven in excess of 60 mph. Uphill through the Berkshires and all the other inclines we encountered, the VW would not go much over 30 mph, so downhill we would hunch down over the steering wheel, effectively blocking Hal's view of the speedometer and let 'er rip—like 70 mph. After a quick seven hours' rest, we made it to Amarillo the next morning, some 2,000 miles from home. Room accommodations were the same.
After the meet and a meal during which we heard about Hal's fighter pilot experiences in Europe during WWII (yes, his craft was shot up, but he managed to limp back to England with oil splattered all over the windscreen for zero visibility), we headed for home at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. I arrived back in Sudbury at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning after two more sleepless nights, took a shower, changed my clothes, ate breakfast, and went to work. Hal went to work too. I'm not sure about the other two. It was an experience—one I've never tried to duplicate. One of those in a lifetime is enough.
Email from Doug Haartz:
"Imagine my surprise while surfing through the net to find this and many more sites linked to my father Ted. My name is Doug Haartz, the oldest son of Ted and Lee. After reading the interview done by Liz Adams and Jim Edwards, I couldn't help but think back to the massive mail deliveries after the article was published in the Sunday Parade magazine. The Sudbury post office asked us never to have our address listed in a national magazine again. They were delivering several bags of mail a day to our home and you couldn't walk into our house with out tripping over a pile of letters and cards that represented an individual state or country. Letters from as far away as the UK and Australia started showing up in addition to the USA. I've never seen anything like it and hope I won't again. As my parents are not currently hooked up to the Internet, I plan on printing some of the pages I've found and will forward them along for review. Ted and Lee currently reside year round in Green Valley, Ariz., but make the annual trek back to Sudbury, to visit with my wife and me and their three grandchildren (all swimmers) and to visit with their youngest son, Ben and his wife who also still live in the area. Thanks for the great website and the memories."