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Remembering Jerry Bennett

A swimming legacy

Richard Bennett | July 2, 2006

Jerry Bennett was my mother. She was born in 1908 and died in August 1998 at the age of 89. Jerry was a nickname she assumed as a young woman and used the rest of her life. Her full name was LaVerne Means Bennett, and that is the name she used when she taught physical education at the University of Hawaii from 1936 to 1947.

She taught me to swim at the age of six in 1936; thirty-eight years later when I started swimming with Masters in 1974, I started encouraging her to swim Masters. When my parents moved into the Pohai Nani (Oahu, Hawaii) retirement home in 1976, she immediately started recruiting fellow retirees to swim Masters with her. Some of the swimmers she recruited to swim with her were Hazel Montgomery, Gratia McConkey, Jamie Cameron, and Bob Mott-Smith, all now deceased. Doris Young also swam in that group and is still very active with golf and swimming. She still lives at Pohai Nani and could possibly dig out some more details on her teammates.

Jerry and her teammates went to the nationals in Spokane in 1977 (brrrrrrr!!) competing for Humuhumunukunukuapu'a'a Swim Club (HUMU). She won gold on a relay and the two of us were recognized by Sports Illustrated (Faces in the Crowd) as a mother-son combination (maybe the first such?) both competing at the same nationals. She turned 70 in 1978 and swam at Mission Viejo in 1979 where she won her first individual national gold medals. Her last national competition was in 1990 at USC in Southern California. She won three gold medals in the 80-84 age group. I recruited my daughter to swim the 50 free at USC, so we were three generations competing in the same nationals.

 

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