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Remembering Reggie Richardson

1984 Ransom Arthur recipient

Dorothy Donnelly | July 19, 2000

Reg Richardson (1911-1989) was a "Big Man in USMS" in more ways than one. He was the 1984 recipient of the Ransom Arthur Award, USMS's highest accolade, served as USMS Treasurer during the 1981-1984 administration of Mike Laux, and was a long- time treasurer for Southern Pacific Masters. In the pool, he was named All-American twelve times between 1972 and 1988. Two of Reg's most treasured memories were filling in on a 15-and-over relay when one of the teenage boys didn't show up—and swimming a remarkable 1:21.21 in the 100-yard individual medley in October 1981, when he had just aged up to 70. In 1998, 17 years later, that time would still make top ten!

A heart as big as all outdoors, his height and girth were such that his wardrobe (in addition to bathing suits and warmups) consisted of distinctive jump suits in various colors, personally and lovingly made by his wife. He courted and married Mabel in 1935, had two sons and a daughter. Mabel and the family were enormously proud of his swimming achievements. During his last days in the hospital, his seven year old great-grandson brought one of Reg's gold medals and draped it around his neck. It was a loving and dramatic gesture. There were seven great-grandchildren among his survivors when he died in February, 1989. Mabel passed away in August, 1998.

Reg grew up in San Diego. Not a serious swimmer in his youth, he instead belonged to a rowing club. When he was 60, he read about Buster Crabbe and Masters swimming. He entered a 1971 Masters meet where he beat Buster, and that was all he needed. Now living in Santa Barbara, Reg arranged for a time slot for Masters at the Los Banos pool; managed to get some articles in the sports page, and soon there was a real team going. "He loved to coach us and nag us about stroke defects, particularly on Saturdays when there was not a coached workout."

On the day of his first stroke he had run a pace-and-stroke workout for "His Girls." After his death in 1989, as a tribute to Reg, the "Girls" went to regionals, entered all five relays and set national records in the 65 plus age group in every one of them! The SC Relay members were Grace Altus, Dodo LaChasse, Ruth Baar and Shirley Erickson - each All-American and top ten swimmers in their own right. Three of these records still stand, nine years later. The annual Masters meet held in Santa Barbara is named the Reg Richardson Memorial Meet. His Girls kept in touch with Mabel, with news about the memorial meet and the fact his swims are still among the all-time top ten.

Reg Richardson will long be remembered by those whose lives he touched.

by Dorothy Donnelly

Reg was one of our good friends and a friend to all of our Masters swimmers. We first became acquainted with Reg in 1972 at the first National Long Course Championship held in Bloomington, Ind. Reg was barrel-chested and an outstanding national swimmer. It will seem strange not seeing Reg. He was an inspiration for many in Masters swimming.

He was active in the national conventions and held the office of treasurer for four years and successfully regained Masters funds from the AAU. Reg seemed to be in top condition and came back into competition after a heart by-pass. We will all miss him.

by Mildred Anderson , February, 1989

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