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Deb Walker Helps Everyone into the Water

Service to swimming

Author Unknown | November 30, 2008

Deb Walker's love for and service to swimming transcends everything else in her life. Because of this devotion, she has affected the lives of countless numbers of swimmers—from a kid at his first swim lesson, to the age group swimmer who sticks with it and doesn't quit, to the high school swimmer who she helps get a swimming scholarship to college, to a new Masters swimmer who is inspired to swim in his first swim meet, to a world class swimmer at the Olympic trials.

One does not have to go far to know of her accomplishments, but you will not hear about them from her. When she is promoting something, it is a cause that promotes Masters swimming; it is never herself. Yet she is a Masters All-American many times over and has set national and world records.

Deb started the first Swim America swim lesson program in Sarasota, was an assistant coach at the Sarasota Boys Club for nearly 15 years volunteering without pay, and has been the backbone of the Suncoast Masters/Swim Florida Masters in Sarasota team for decades. If she isn't the meet director for their annual meet, she is behind the scenes doing everything that has to be done.

Her efforts aren't confined to the pool or pool deck. When the head Boys Club coach moved on to another job, Deb took it upon herself to advertise for, interview, and hire a new coach. She is now on the Sarasota Masters board of directors, and recently designed a welcoming brochure for her Masters team to send out to current and prospective members; she thinks of every detail to help out a new swimmer.

"First and foremost, she loves swimming," said Robert Davie, president of SWIM Florida Masters/Sarasota. "How many times have I witnessed a fun workout that she has created for the group she is training with? She has brought recognition to our team with her consistent All-America status, always raising the bar. There is no second place person behind Deb Walker—no one could fill her shoes. There may be people who know more about Masters swimming, but I would be at a loss to think of anyone who contributes so much and in such a caring manner."

"I have swum with her for the last 30 years," added Jim Donnelly. "So I know firsthand what she had done. She is the hardest working Masters swimmer I have ever known, but she has never rested on her laurels and has given to the swimming community more than she could possibly ever get back."

Deb Walker received the Frank H. Tillotson Award and the USMS Dorothy Donnelly Service Award in 2005.


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