Encouraging More Adults to Swim
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USMS Oral History


Reflections from Abba J Kastin Jul 19, 2000

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My father, Isadore I Kastin , was born in 1895 in a part of Poland ruled by Russia. Coming to this country by himself at age 11, he never had the opportunity to swim competitively. Nevertheless, he did swim recreationally at the Cleveland, Ohio YMCA as long as I can remember, taking me with him frequently. This undoubtedly contributed to my joining the swim team in high school and college (Harvard,'56).

In 1972, my father discovered that he had prostate cancer large enough to result in the loss of function of one of his kidneys. Since he had always been in excellent health, I sensed that this was bothering him pyschologically. I had been competing locally in masters swimming and took this opportunity to bring him to the national meet in Bloomington, Indiana, something I would not have attended otherwise. I figured there would not be much competition for him in his age bracket, and this proved to be correct. It was a great psychological boost to my father. Subsequently, he even occasionally competed locally.

At his death at age 95, his prostate cancer was present but did not contribute to his demise. I always considered that this Indiana Masters meet was key in his never paying any attention to this disease. Thus, it contributed to the general feeling of well being that he radiated throughout his long life.

Abba J Kastin , M.D., 11/12/99

We wrote back for Dr. Kastin's and his father's birthdays and received this reply.

I appreciate your interest in my father and me. As for the information you requested, his birthday was April 20, 1895 and mine is December 24, 1934.

I was one of the three founders of the Green Wave Masters Swim Club at Tulane University in the early 1970's and remained a competing member until its demise about ten years ago. During that time I competed in two Nationals, one with my father in 1972 and another in Knoxville in 1975 at which I took a 5th in the 50 for men 40-44. In that year, I still held 3 Southern AAU swimming records for the 35-39 age bracket.

I had many interesting experiences swimming masters, including a long-term romance with a team member whom I met at the pool. Perhaps the most ironic event occured at the First Houston Invitational Masters Swimming Championship in which I won high point trophy despite being repeatedly beaten by Graham Johnston who fortunately for me was in a tougher older age bracket.

Although I am no longer a member of USMS, my interest in swimming remains strong. As an active swimmer, I do interval training with another member of our defunct team 4-5 times/week. As a passive observer, I was fortunate to be able to attend all the swim events at the Atlanta Olympics. I also subscribe to all the swimming magazines and am an associate (non-functioning) member of The American Swimming Coaches Association. I attribute much of my continuing good health and productive medical research career to regular workouts in the pool.

Abba J. Kastin, M.D., Editor-in-Chief, Peptides

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