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Gladys Olsen Learned to Swim in a Fjord

First Masters meet was 1974 Nationals

Author Unknown | March 28, 2002

Gladys Olsen , 73, entered the world at Suburban Hospital, in Oak Park, Ill, the same hospital where her three children were born. She attended Wright Community College in Chicago, and worked as an accountant at a Kelly Girls Agency while raising her family. Olsen lived in the Chicago area most of her life, except from 1933-1937. She spent those years in Norway, where she learned to swim in a fjord. While trying to keep her face out of the cold water, she developed her high breaststroke technique.

She joined Masters in the early 1970s, and swam for the Shabonna YMCA. Her first Masters meet was the 1974 Nationals, at Circle Campus, Chicago. She swam in many meets around Chicago, and at Western Ill. Univ., where she met Paul Hutinger, who ran meets for 20 years. She also attended several of his clinics. When she moved to Florida in the 1990s, she swam with the Hutingers on St Pete Masters. When they formed the Florida Mavericks, she became an enthusiastic member and supporter on her longtime friend's team. She regularly places in the USMS Top Ten. The highlight of her Masters competition was winning the 200-meter fly at nationals, in Ft Lauderdale, in 1998. Although behind at the flags, she buried her head, and swam hard to the wall, as coach said. She and her husband, Bob, have been married for 52 years, and live in Fort Myers Beach.

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