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Profiling Hawaii Swimmer Joan D Osborne

Swimming keeps her 91 years young

Barbara Dunbar | March 4, 2008

Joan D Osborne participated in Masters swimming from 1973 through 1986 competing in four different women’s age groups, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, and 70-74. She participated again in 1993 in the women 75-79 age group, and in 1996. Joan has set four Masters age group world records, 28 Masters age group national records (19 for long course meters events and nine for short course yards events), and one long distance national record during the period from 1973 through 1986. In addition to her Masters swimming athletic achievements, Joan, a 1933 graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii, was inducted into the Punahou Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.

Between 1973 and 1986, Joan won a total of 57 events at Masters national short course and long course championships and was long distance national champion in two long distance events. During 15 years of competition from 1973 through 1986 and again in 1993, Joan was listed in the United States Masters swimming (USMS) national Top Ten times in 174 events; ranking first in 53; ranking second in 29; ranking third in 20; and ranking fourth in 22, and ranking fifth through tenth in the remaining 50.

Named Masters All-American ten different years for accomplishments in pool events, Joan was also selected as a long distance All-American twice. Joan was first listed as a Masters All-American in 1973 and was one of four women in the 55-59 age group to be so named. To achieve Masters All-American status from 1973 through 1975, a Masters swimmer had to either, one) win a total four events at the short course and/or the long course national Masters championships, or two) have four number one rankings on the U.S. National Masters Top Ten Times list, or three) have a combination of four number one rankings and/or wins at Masters national championships. To be named All-American in 1976, the requirement changed to either, one) total four wins in events at the short course and/or the long course national Masters championships, or two) a total of four number one rankings on the U.S. national Masters Top Ten times list. As more people began swimming in the Masters program, the requirement for being named Masters All-Americans was changed once more in 1977. From that year onward, anyone who was ranked number one in an event on the Masters national Top Ten lists in a given year was named pool All-American for that year. To be named long distance swimming All-American for a particular year, a swimmer needed to win one of the long distance national championship events held in that year.

Joan swam in her first national AAU Masters Short Course Yards Swimming Championships which took place in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 18-20, 1973, and represented the Waikiki Swim Club. She swam two events in the women’s 55-59 age group, placed first in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard free, and became a national champion in those events as a result of her first place finishes. In addition, Joan set her first Masters age group national record by swimming the women’s 55-59 age 100-yard free event in a time of 1:25.9. Although she also broke the listed women’s 55-59 national record in the 50-yard free, another swimmer in a meet two weeks earlier had already established a new national record. Joan later competed at the 1973 National AAU Masters Long Course Swimming Championships on August 10-12, 1973, at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and became a long course national champion in the women 55-59 age group in the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter freestyle events. She set Masters national records in both the 50-meter freestyle (39.97) and the 100-meter freestyle (1:33.97). When the national Masters Top Ten lists were published at the end of 1973, Joan was listed number two in the 50-yard free, number one in the 100-yard free (national record), number one in the 50-meter free (national record), number one in the 100-meter free (national record), and number two in the 200-meter free. Joan was off to a great start in Masters swimming.

As a member of the Hawaii Masters Swim Club, Joan competed at the 1974 National AAU Masters Short Course Yards Swimming Championships on May 17-19 at the Swimming Hall of Fame Pool in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  In the women’s 55-59 age group, she placed fourth in the 50-yard free, fourth in the 100-yard free, second in the 200-yard free, and first in the 100-yard breaststroke. The following year, Joan swam Unattached (no club affiliation) in the 1975 National AAU Masters Short Course Yards Swimming Championships.

Beginning in 1976, Joan represented the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a Swim Club (HSC, later abbreviated HUMU). Aging up to the 60-64 age group in mid-year, she set four national records in each of the four events that she won at the 1974 National AAU Masters Long Course Swimming Championships on August 26-29 at the Sugar Creek Sports Club in St. Louis. Her national records were in the 400-meter free (7:25.25), 1500-meter free (29:52.85), 50-meter fly (49.61), and 200-meter IM (3:59.78). In addition, she placed second at the meet in the 200-meter free. She was named 1976 Masters All-American for women 60-64.

1977 proved to be another stellar year for Joan as she added more national championship wins and national records to her list of achievements and was named Masters All-American in the women 60-64 age group. The 1977 National AAU Masters Men’s and Women’s Short Course Masters Swimming Championships were held at the Swimming Hall of Fame pool in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on May 13-15. At this meet, Joan place first in the women 60-64 500-yard free, first in the 1650-yard free, first in the 50-yard fly while setting a national record (44.57), first in the 100-yard IM with another national record (1:34.45), and first in the 200-yard IM in another national record time (3:33.81). The 1977 National AAU Masters Men’s and Women’s Long Course Masters Swimming Championships held on August 25-28 in Spokane, Wash., proceeded in a similar manner. Joan was national champion in five events (400-meter free, 1500-meter free, 50-meter fly, 100-meter fly, and 200-meter IM). She set national records in the 1500-meter free (29:09.80) and 100-meter fly (1:58.50). Joan garnered 1978 long distance All-American status by winning the National AAU Masters One Hour Swim Championships in the women 60-64 age group with 3,225 yards. She swam in the 1978 National AAU Masters Long Course Swimming Championships at Brown University in Providence, R.I., on August 31 and September 1-3.  Joan was national champion (placed first) in the 100-meter free, 200-meter free, 400-meter free, and 200-meter IM. Her 400-meter free swim set a national and a world record (7:22.42), while her 200-meter IM set a new national record (3:50.10). Her four first place listings in the Masters national Top Ten times list ensured that she would be named 1978 Masters All-American for pool events.

The 1979 Masters AAU National Short Course Swimming Championships were held on May 4-7 in Mission Viejo, Calif. Joan was national champion (placed first) in the 100-, and 200-yard IM and set a national record in the 200-IM with a time of 3:30.49. At the Masters 1979 AAU Long Course National Championships on August 23-26 in Dearborn, Mich., Joan placed first (national champion) in the women 60-64 200-meter free, 400-meter free, 50-meter fly, 200-meter IM, and 400-meter IM. Her time of 7:18.14 in the 400-meter free set a new world and national record for women 60-64. At another meet in the summer of 1979, Joan set a world and national record in the 1500-meter free (29:00.31). Once again, she was named Masters All-American in 1979. A year later, at age 64, Joan was national champion for women 60-64 in the 50-meter fly and 200-meter IM at the 1980 Masters National AAU Masters Long Course Swimming Championships held in Santa Clara, Calif. 

The following year, 1981, was a big competition year for Joan since she aged up to the women 65-69 category after the end of the short course season but before the end of the long course season. Joan swam in the women 60-64 age group at the Penn Mutual AAU 1981 United States National Masters Short Course Swimming Championships on May 23-26 held at the Heritage Park Aquatic Complex, Irvine, Calif. At this meet, she was the winner of the women 60-64 200-yard IM. Her times as a 64 year old placed her in the national short course yards Top Ten times for Women 60-64, and she was listed as number four in 200-yard free, number three in 500-yard free, number three in 1650-yard free, number nine in 50-yard breast, number four in 50-yard fly, number four in 100-yard IM, and number four in 200-yard IM. She swam some long course meters events before turning 65 and was listed in the national long course meters Top Ten times for women 60-64 in the following events: number seven in 50-meter free, number eight in 100-meter free, number five in 400-meter free, number four in 50-meter fly, number three in 100-meter fly, and number five in 200-meter IM.

Joan celebrated a birthday mid 1981 season, moved up to the women 65-69 age group, and proceeded to smash some national and world records at the Penn Mutual/AAU Masters National Long Course Championships on August 13-16, 1981, in Canton, Ohio. Joan placed first in the 200-meter free, first in the 400-meter free in the world and national record time of 7:19.87, first in the 1500-meter free in the world and national record time of 29:19.17, first in the 50-meter butterfly in the national record time of 52.87, first in the 100-meter butterfly, and first in the 200-meter individual medley. At the end of the season, when the national long course meters Top Ten times list was published, Joan was ranked number one for each of those events and was listed as All-American for 1981 for the women 65-69 age group.

 In January 1982, Joan entered the National Masters One Hour Swim Championships, a long distance postal national championship event in which swimmers swim as far as possible in precisely sixty minutes. By swimming 3,200 yards in the one hour allotted time, Joan set a new women 65-69 long distance one-hour swim national record. As a result of winning the event, she was named Long Distance All-American in 1982. Joan later competed in six events at the Penn Mutual 1982 USMS National Short Course Championships on May 21-24 at The Woodlands, Texas.  She was national champion in all six of her events and set four national records: number one in 200-yard free, number one in 500-yard free (national record 8:27.63), number one in 50-yard fly (national record 45.77), number one in 100-yard fly (national record 1:47.35), number one in 100-yard IM (national record 1:35.98), and number one in 200-yard IM. At the end of the short course yards season, the published national Top Ten times listed Joan in the following women 65-69 events: number one in 200-yard free, number one in 500-yard free, number one in 1650-yard free, number four in 100-yard back, number four in 100-yard breast, number one in 50-yd fly, number one in 100-yard fly, number one in 100-yard IM, and number one in 200-yard IM. During the summer, Joan participated in the Penn Mutual 1982 USMS National Long Course Championships on Aug 26-29 in Portland, Ore. The 1982 national long course Top Ten times listed Joan as number three in 100-meter free, number one in 200-meter free, number two in 400-meter free, number seven in 100-meter back, number five in 50-meter breast, number two in 100-meter breast, and number one in 50-meter fly in the women 65-69 age group.

 Joan traveled again to compete in the 1983 USMS Short Course National Swimming Championships held at the Swimming Hall of Fame Pool in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on May 28-31. The 1983 national Top Ten times for women 65-69 list Joan as number four in 50-yard free, number two in 100-yard free, number two in 500-yard free, number seven in 50-yard back, number seven in 200-yard back, number six in 50-yard breast, number six in 200-yard breast, number two in 50-yard fly, number two in 200-yard fly, number six in 100-yard IM, number two in 400-yard IM. At the 1983 USMS National Long Course Championships (Aug. 25-28, Indianapolis, Ind.), Joan was national champion in the 200-meter free, 400-meter free, 50-meter fly, and 200-meter IM. She established a new women 65-69 world and national record in the 200-meter IM event (4:03.97) set on August 28,1983. The subsequent national Top Ten times for long course ranked Joan as number two in 50-meter free, number one in 200-meter free, number one in 400-meter free, number one in 1500-meter free, number four in 50-meter back, number five in 50-meter breast, number two in 100-meter breast, number two in 50-meter fly, and number one in 200-meter IM for women 65-69.

Joan remained active as a Masters swimmer the following year and again ranked in the 1984 national Top Ten times list for short course yards events for women 65-69, placing number five in 50-yard free, number three in 100-yard free, number four in 200-yard free, number four in 500-yard free, number nine in 50-yard back, number three in 50-yd breast, number four in 200-yard breast, number two in 50-yard fly, number four in 100-yard IM, and number three in 200-yard IM. She also appeared on the women 65-69 national long course meters Top Ten times as number four in 100-meter free, number six in 200-meter free, number nine in 100-meter back, number 10 in 200-meter back, number six in 100-meter breast, number four in 200-meter breast, and number three in 200-meter IM.

Joan swam a number of events during 1985 which resulted in women 65-69 national Top Ten listings of number three in 100-meter free, number four in 200-meter free, number three in 400-meter free, number two in 800-meter free, number five in 1500-meter free, number five in 50-meter breast, number three in 50-meter fly, and number five in 200-meter IM. By winning the W 65-69 50 meter butterfly event at the 1985 USMS National Long Course Championships, Joan added another national champion title to her growing list of accomplishments.

As a prelude to aging up to the women 70-74 category mid-year, Joan attended the 1986 USMS Short Course National Championships in Ft. Pierce, Fla., on May 15-18. She made the 65-69 national Top Ten times list with a fifth place rank in the 1000-yard free. Joan turned seventy before her trip to the 1986 USMS Long Course National Championships held in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 21-24, a trip which proved to be very rewarding. Joan was national champion in six events, placing first in the 50-meter free, 100-meter free, 200-meter free, 400-meter free, 50-meter fly, and 200-meter IM. On top of that, Joan set a new women 70-74 age group world record and national record in her 400-meter free event by swimming a 7:44.80. Demonstrating her stroke versatility that season, she also set national records in the 50-meter breaststroke event (57.97) and the 50-meter butterfly event (55.54). The 1986 national long course meters Top Ten times listed Joan as number one in 50-meter free, number one in 100-meter free, number two in 200-meter free, number one in 400-meter free, number two in 50-meter back, number one in 50-meter breast, number two in 100-meter breast, number one in 50-meter fly, and number one in 200-meter IM. 

After a six-year break from Masters swimming competition, Joan returned in 1993 in the women 75-79 age group. She was listed on the national Top Ten times in two events and ranked number seven in the 400-meter free and number four in the 800-meter free. While Joan’s competitive Masters swimming achievements were last recorded in 1993, it is important to note that Joan continues to swim regularly. As of March 2008, Joan is 91 years young, looks twenty years younger, and continues to swim at least twice a week.


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