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Jane Katz Extols the Benefits of Swimming for Fitness

FINA certificate of merit award, among others

Author Unknown | April 3, 2002

Dr. Jane Katz was awarded the Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) Certificate of Merit to honor her "dedication and contribution to the development" of the sport of Swimming, awarded in Sydney, Australia, during the XXVII Olympiad in 2000.

Dr. Jane Katz has taught thousands of students about the benefits of water fitness at the City University of New York since 1964. She is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics, teaching fitness and swimming to New York City’s police and firefighters.

She has been recognized for her work as an educator, aquatics innovator and author. Among many prestigious honors for her work is the Townsend Harris Academic Medal from her alma mater, the City College of New York, an award bestowed to fellow alumnus Secretary of State Colin Powell.

As a member of the 1964 U.S. Synchronized Swimming Performance Team in Tokyo, Dr. Katz helped pioneer the acceptance of synchronized swimming as an Olympic event. Her achievements as a Masters competitive, long-distance, synchronized and fin swimmer have earned her All-American and world Masters championships. She has continued her competitive involvement by winning five World Senior Games Championships in 2001.

Dr. Katz earned her bachelor's degree in physical education at the City College of New York, a Masters in Education Administration and Organization from New York University and both a master's degree in Therapeutic Recreation for Aging and her Doctor of Education degree in gerontology from Columbia University.

Jane Katz's aquatics publications include Swimming for Total Fitness, as well as other books, videos, and numerous articles, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica's "Take the Plunge: Swimming for Health," and "Aquatic Exercise."

Jane Katz is currently a member of USA Swimming's Education Committee and has been a consultant to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports since 1981. In May 1999, she received the Paragon Aquatic Achievement Award for contribution to recreational swimming at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Dr. Katz received the Outstanding Teacher Award for the academic year 1999-2000 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of CUNY, and was the 2000 honoree of the New York City PSAL's National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

A Different Kind of Warmup

The May, 1998 U.S.Masters Nationals coincided with the almost two weeks of rain experienced by the eastern seaboard. So not only did my busy work schedule preclude me from taking a flight the night before, but the bad weather held things up too. I had wanted to book the direct flight that morning, but it was booked. The first departure was okay, but the connecting flight was slow. I got really anxious about the time, so I put on my bathing suit in the restroom of the airplane!

I thought things were under control once I was on the ground, but the taxi driver missed the turn-off, so that meant crawling through the Indianapolis "5" - five miles per hour that is. When I finally arrived at the huge IUPUI natatorium, I was disrobing and putting on my cap as I made my way to the pool itself. The meet was running on schedule, so when I got there at 10:20 a.m., the swimmers from the last heat of the previous event were in the water.

After literally a five minute warm-up and stretch in the diving pool, I slipped into the water for the 100-yard backstroke event. My main competitor looked at me and said, "I didn't know you were going to be here!" and I said to her "Neither did I!"

At the 1998 United States Masters National Swimming Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana on May 7 to 10, Dr. Jane Katz marked her 25th anniversary of Masters swimming participation by winning both the Women's 100-yard backstroke and 200- yard backstroke events as the "new kid on the block" in the 55-59 age group.

Dr. Jane Katz grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City where her parents, Leon and Dorothea Katz (who died in early 1997 after a long illness), created the Lower East Side Neighborhood Association in 1957, L.E.N.A. allowed many children, including Jane, her two sisters and brother, to compete in swimming and track-and-field events. This dedication of her parents is perhaps where Jane acquired her love for fitness and swimming. Jane was married to Herbert L. Erlanger an anesthesiologist at New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center in 1996. Her wedding, with aquatic overtones, reflected her love of the water and her zest for fun.

Jane received a bachelors degree in physical education from CCNY in 1963, an M.A. degree in organization and administration at NYU in 1966, a M.Ed. degree in therapeutic recreation for aging at Columbia University Teachers College in 1972 and a doctorate degree in the field of gerontology from Columbia University in 1978.

She has been a faculty member at City University of New York since 1964 and is currently based at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she teaches fitness and swimming to New York City's police and fire fighters. Jane has coordinated aquatic survival training clinics at Fort Benning, Ga., and has been a water safety instructor for the American Red Cross for over 30 years.

Jane is a consultant to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and in 1987 she received the Healthy American Fitness Leaders award. She is a Congress member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and in 1990 was the United States Olympic Committee's choice for the U.S. National Fin Swimming Athlete of the Year. In 1992 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Aquatic Fitness Association, and in 1994 she was awarded the CUNY Physical Education Outstanding Service Award at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn. She is presently serving on the USMS Fitness Committee. Jane has also appeared nationally on television on CBS This Morning, NBC Today Show, ABC Good Morning America and the Discovery Channel, and has been featured in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Glamour and Fitness Swimmer.

As a world class competitive, long distance and synchronized swimmer, Jane has competed in races such as the Miss America Pageant swim in Atlantic City, N.J., and in the Hudson River, the Pacific Oceans, and in lakes and pools all over the world. At age 14 she was a member of the U.S. Swim Team to the Maccabiah Games in Israel and more recently, in January 1996, she competed at the Maccabiah Pan-American Games in Argentina and won several gold medals in Masters competitions. With her participation on the USMS Masters swim team in July, 1997, in Israel, she will have represented for 40 years in the Maccabiah Games. She has been a member of the U.S. Masters Swimming All-American Team since 1974.

In 1964, she was a member of the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Performance Team at the Tokyo Olympics, and was instrumental in the acceptance of synchronized swimming as an Olympic event. In 1989, representing Manhattan Plaza Masters, Jane competed in the Second World Masters Games in Denmark, finishing first in the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 meter freestyle, and placing second in the solo and duet and third in the team synchronized swimming championships. Because she had to compete at two different pools that were not in close proximity, she said "I encountered a third event—an unexpected one—known as 'getting to the pool on time'. This was usually accomplished by changing swimwear and 'hair gelling' en route." In 1994, she won the 400-meter freestyle in the 50-54 age group at the Fifth World Masters Championship in Montreal, Canada, also placing first in her age group in the woman's solo synchronized swimming competition.

When Jane was injured in a car accident in 1979, she created her own aquatic program to help her rehabilitation. She decided to share her knowledge and experience with others, and has written several books including: "Fitness Works" (1988), a practical book that offers step-by- step direction on everything you need to start your own exercise program including guidelines on training methods that cover cycling, walking, jogging, and swimming; "Swimming for Total Fitness" (1993), a progressive swim program with over 80 workouts; "Water Fitness During Your Pregnancy" (1995); "The All-American Aquatic Handbook: Your Passport to Lifetime Fitness" (1996) and; "The New W.E.T. Workout" (1996), that includes water exercise techniques. She also has a computer diskette with a "Work Station Workout" for those who spend time in front of the computer. For these and other publications, you can write Jane at 400 Second Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

Jane Katz lives in New York, N.Y and swims for Empire State Masters.

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