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Remembering Jean Durston

Loved "churning out laps" and snorkeling in Hawaii

Author Unknown | May 23, 2001

Jean Durston passed away peacefully at home 4 p.m. Saturday, January 6th, 2001. Jean had been in ill health for the past few months. Cards can be sent to Jill Grove, 5080 Netto Drive, Concord, CA 94521. A Celebration of Life Memorial will take place at Clarke Memorial Swim Center at 10:30 a.m., January 21, 2001. Her ashes will be scattered off the coast of Maui later this spring.

At the time of her passing, Jean held three national short course yards records, nine world long course records, five world short course meters records, plus a host of national long course and short course meters records and many Pacific Masters records. She was the 2001 recipient of the David Yorzyk Memorial Award for the most outstanding 400-yard individual medley at the short course national championships (She broke the national record by two minutes, 12 sec). She made Masters All-American 18 times, and made top ten 279 times over the last seven years. Jean was an inspiration to all. She swam the 200-meter fly at the age of 85 in a world record time of 5:49.75. When Jean swam the fly, she swam it—arms fully out of the water. Difficult to do when a person is young, much more difficult when the person is 85.

We will miss you, Jean D. Duston, R.I.P. (from The Pacific Masters Website)

See: Portrait of a Masters Swimmer

Jean Durston, 81: Gettin' Better All the Time

Although she's been swimming Masters for 25 years. Jean Durston was not a swimming whiz as a kid. In fact, she took up the sport after a serious illness when her physician suggested she get into an aquatic exercise program as therapy. "That was good advice," she chuckles, "I've outlived him"!

Soon she was doing laps and a year later, at the urging of Elfriede Rogers, entered her first meet. "It was traumatic," she recalls. "I drank a lot of pool water." But not long afterward, she was back competing and she's been at it ever since. "But," she says, "it's only in the last three years that I don't get nervous before races.”

Last year, the youthful Durston chalked up her finest season ever. In the short course season she notched 10 first place rankings in every stroke except backstroke, with five national records. Long course, she had five number one rankings, two national records and one world mark for women 80- 84.

Durston logs about 2,700 yards a day, four days a week under the guidance of Walnut Creek Masters Coach, Kerry O'Brien. "Jean looks better now than she did ten years ago," he says. "She's very attentive to her technique and has a great work ethic. That has a lot to do with her success."

When she's not churning out the laps or snorkeling in Hawaii, Durston loves to find time for her four children, 12 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

from SWIM magazine, March-April 1996

Jean D. Durston lived in Concord, Calif., and swam for Walnut Creek Masters.

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