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USMS Oral History


Reflections from Rose Steward Jul 19, 2000

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This is an oral history about Jean Ditsworth by Rose Steward submitted to USMS Archives by Edie Gruender , 2/18/00.

Elizabeth Jean Zink Ditsworth, born June 12,1929, a native of Mason City, Iowa, was married to Dr. Richard C. Ditsworth, a Professor in the Engineering Dept. at A.S.U., Tempe, AZ.

As a method of rehabilitation, following several serious abdominal surgeries, Jean, as she was known, began taking swim classes at A.S.U. in 1972. Here she was spotted by Rose Steward who encouraged her to join the newly formed Arizona Masters Swim Club.

Jean enjoyed competition and making new friends. After swimming in numerous sanctioned meets within the state, she swam in her first Short Course National Meet at Mission Viejo in May of 1976.

Edie Gruender sponsored a Memorial Open Water Swim as a tribute to her father, Cliff Brown of Wisconsin. Cliff had been an early supporter of the National Organization and of Masters Long Distance Swimming. The locale of this two-mile National Cable Swim event was Trout Lake in Sussex, Wisconsin. Jean, Edie Gruender and Rose Steward entered the 1978 event as individuals and as a 3-person relay team representing Arizona Masters Swim Club. Rose Steward, who had never before done an open water swim, was dismayed at the murky water and no underwater lane lines. At the completion of the first half-mile mark, Rose freaked out and did a hasty exit. At the end of their 2 mile swim, Edie and Jean were aghast to see Rose on shore, dry and fully dressed. They soon pressured her into reentering the lake and completing the entire swim, thereby preserving the honor of the State of Arizona.

Jean ably served as Editor of the quarterly newsletter, the "Aquatick News" for many years. Her humor and "tongue-in-cheek" comments amused Arizona Masters swimmers throughout the state.

Jean, at age 68 (April 11, 1997) died suddenly in her sleep due to a cardiac problem. She will long be remembered as one of the pillars of Arizona Masters swimmers.

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