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Honoring Esther Lyman

Tracy Grilli | January 27, 2011

In 1986, my family moved to Londonderry, N.H., the same town where Esther lived. Not long after we moved in, she arrived with brochures to the YMCAs and YWCAs in the area. I guess she didn’t want me to be a fish out of water.

Over the years, Esther volunteered for a number of positions that involved rather tedious responsibilities at both the club and regional levels: New England Masters and New England Local Masters Swimming Committee, including repairing our Top 10 list for short course yards, creating an All Time Top 10 list for long course meters and the One-Hour Swim. She served for a number of years as an assistant to our NEM News Editor and also as the vice chair of the LMSC. In each of these positions she brought her usual thoroughness to the task at hand, becoming expert on each of the responsibilities and then smartly finding someone qualified to take over.

In 1996, U.S. Masters Swimming hired me as their executive secretary and in 1999, with our membership at 38,000, I was given the additional responsibility of bringing the USMS membership registration process in house. I needed to hire a database administrator and the first person I thought of was Esther. I knew she would be perfect. When I called her, she thought about it for a moment and said, “Yes, I think I would like to do this.”

USMS couldn’t have a hired a better person. Over the last 10 years, as our membership has grown to over 55,000, Esther was hard working, meticulous, patient, flexible and very knowledgeable when it came to the management of data. If there was something she didn’t know, she researched to find the answer. If something didn’t look quite right or she thought there was a better way of doing it, she experimented until she figured it out.

Esther definitely had an understanding of the importance of the information she maintained, what its potential uses were and why it had to be up-to-date, correct and available. She took tremendous pride in her work and was very much appreciated by our members, local registrars, committees and Board of Directors.

After the first year, Esther wrote, “It took a great deal of courage all around to strike into this unknown territory—bringing the function in house—but we all survived and can all take credit that the results speak for themselves, including all the registrars who have given patiently of their time and effort and all deserve a medal! Not all gold, but no DQs either.”

Upon learning of Esther’s passing, some of our volunteers have written to tell us how much they will miss her:

"It took Esther and me two years to gather membership data for Illinois members so we were able to recognize Masters swimmers for their years of participation. Illinois now honors and recognizes swimmers for this achievement with an anniversary award, some who have been members for over 25 years. Esther is the person who made this happen."  Nadine Day, USMS VP of Member Services

"Esther was always extremely sweet and helpful to me with USMS registration issues over the years. I remember how much she helped me with the registration software, and I couldn't have imagined getting through some difficult processing issues without her assistance. I will miss her and am grateful to have known her."  Joe Skoski, Allegheny Mountain Registrar

"Esther was a great resource and always had the information I needed. I enjoyed working with her and respected her contributions to Masters swimming. Her efforts made a difference and left a positive impact on those of us who worked with her."  Doug Adamavich, LMSC Development Committee Chair

"Esther was a great help to me when I first became registrar for South Dakota. I spoke to her on the phone many times and she was really a great help. She was also a real character."  Mary Turner, South Dakota Registrar

"One of the most important and fun things I've ever done was to work with some key people, including Esther to begin the historical archives of USMS. We worked very hard, ruffled a few feathers, and did good work. I'm deeply grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Esther and she will always be very close to my heart. Thank you, Esther, for your talent, commitment and steadfastness."  Carl House, USMS History & Archives

"Esther was invaluable to the History and Archives Committee. She was always very quick to help with any problem. We will miss her greatly."  Meegan Wilson, USMS History & Archives Chair

"How will we ever replace her—she is indispensible!" Sally Dillon, USMS Recognition and Awards Chair

"Esther was always there for me over the past 10 years. She always had a kind word and patiently helped me with all my errors." Laura Wright, Ohio Registrar

"Her pleasant demeanor and sharp competency will be missed." Jerry Clark, USMS Member

 "I was just thinking about her a lot last week, wondering where she was and what she was doing. She was an amazing woman and very technologically advanced. The details in her reports always amazed me. She had a great sense of humor, which I loved."  Meredith Moore, Florida Registrar

 "Esther obviously loved history. She was the caretaker for 40 years' worth of member history for U.S. Masters Swimming. She was the authority on who had been, or had not been, a member of our organization. Esther's word was the final word on that topic.  Esther will continue to work with Tracy and me on a daily basis. She frequently edited member records in our online database. Not a day goes by that I don't see a note somewhere, written by Esther Lyman. Her witty sense of humor occasionally came through in these notes. I'm sure she will continue to provide us with chuckles for a long time to come."  Anna Lea Matysek, USMS Membership Coordinator

A few years ago, Esther gave me a bell as a Christmas gift. I can’t remember exactly what she wrote in the card but it was something like, “Just ring when you need me.”

 Esther, the USMS family will miss you!

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