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Marie Kreipe, in Her Own Words

Loves to travel, loves to swim

Marie Kreipe | March 23, 2006

Marie Kreipe writes: "We had never heard about Masters swimming until it was started in Topeka, Kan., in 1976, several years after it had originated. While I didn't attend the first meet in Olathe, Kan., I did compete in the next one, swimming only fifties.

One day Linda McHenry suggested, "Why not the 500?" I thought she was crazy, but then she reminded me that we always warm up with 500 free. I tried it and liked it and became more of a distance swimmer, not a sprinter.

In 1982 a bunch of us thought we would try a national meet and went to The Woodlands,Texas. We were hooked. I placed in the top six in everything I entered.

After my husband died in May of 1983, Linda, a delegate to the Masters Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, asked me if I would go in her place. I attended every convention after that through 1997 when it was held in Burlingame, Calif. That was my 15th and the last convention I ever attended. I went from not knowing anything about conventions to running the hospitality room and keeping it supplied with refreshments for the length of the convention.

I initially helped in Phoenix in 1985, Fort Worth in 1986 and Atlanta in 1987. The Fort Worth convention was a blast. We not only ran the hospitality room, but we got straw hats for a dance routine, and judicial robes for a skit for the Ransom Arthur Awards, "Here Come de Judge". For another skit, we dressed one gal in aluminum foil and had her wheeled in on a two-wheeled dolly.

From 1987 until 1997 I did most of it myself, with lots of help, before, and during the conventions. I enjoyed it very much. Usually when the convention was a day’s distance, I drove and that way I could bring a lot of things that I would need, bowls, knives, popcorn popper, etc. If I had the time, I would go a day before and meet with local Masters swimmers who would show me the best or closest grocery stores, and places to get the liquid refreshments. When it was too far to drive, I would fly and the local Masters would meet me and take me wherever I needed to go. They would also help me find everything I would need. I remember driving to Indianapolis in 1984 and St. Louis in 1988. I lived there after I was married. I have a cousin in Atlanta (1987), and a sister-in-law in Portland, Oregon (1989). At the Louisville Convention in 1991, Bill Tingley was convention chair. His mom and I were great friends and we did a lot of running around together locating supplies. I also drove to Minneapolis in 1992 and Kansas City in 1994. Mike Heather who lived in Pasadena, was convention committee chair in 1993 and took me everywhere I needed to go when the convention was in LA that year. I also have a son in Houston who helped me out in 1995 and a daughter in San Jose who showed me around Burlingame, Calif., in 1997.

The hospitality room was just one part of the convention committee. That committee also had to see that the convention was set up correctly, with tons of paper, office supplies, computers, copy machines, refrigerators, etc. Every room had to be set up in the right configuration for each committee meeting as well as the main meeting rooms for the House of Delegates, not to mention the planning that went into the social aspects of that "playful" group.

But, back to my swimming. I tried to enter all of the national meets that I could, both SCM and LCM. In 1985, two of us drove to Toronto, Ontario for the world Masters swim meet, our first international meet. I never knew where I placed in the 1500-meter free until that fall when I got back from Europe. I called and they finally sent my results. I had placed first in the 1500!

In 1996 I entered the FINA Masters Championships in Sheffield, England and loved it. We spent four days in London doing the theater bit after the meet. I missed the next FINA meet in Morocco, but went to the one in Munich, Germany in 2000. During the 50 fly, my left arm dropped about 20 feet from the end of the pool. I wondered what had happened. When I was finally examined by an orthopedist, he told me I had torn a ligament completely in two. I had surgery and months of rehab. That was the last of fly for me. After the Munich meet about 30 of us Masters spent the next two weeks touring Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg. We had a great time, not the least of which was the Danube cruise. Prague was the only place I had not visited before, so it was marvelous to see how the cities and different countries had changed over the years. When I was in Europe as a young person, Czechoslovakia was closed to Westerners. We went through on a train, but our luggage was sealed and we were not allowed to get off at any of the stops.

Throughout the years I have placed in the Top Ten in the 50 and 100 breaststroke and the 500 and 1500 and 1650 freestyle. I love to travel and I love to swim. What better place to do both then Masters swimming.

I have not swum competitively since Munich in 2000, but I have entered the SC Nationals in Coral Springs, Fla., on May 11-14, 2006. Why? My daughter lives in Coral Springs and wanted me to visit right after Christmas, but I told her I just couldn't because I had many doctor, dental, and lawyer's appointments and no one to care for the dog and two cats. However, my son Joe said he had vacation time, so why not go then? I thought about it and decided I'd go then. Marty, my daughter who works for the Smithsonian as manager of the Resource Center, said I needed to come see the new Museum of the American Indian this year, since I didn't go to the grand opening. As long as I would be in Florida and D.C. I decided to try to get back in shape and go. So I am. My kids want me to go. People who don't know me that well think I'm crazy at my age. They don't know Masters swimmers."

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