USMS Award Recipient

USMS Athletes Inducted into the Masters International Swimming Hall of Fame (MISHOF)


Recipient: Tom Boak
Year: 2016
LMSC: Gulf

He won a conference breaststroke championship for Bucknell University and then stepped away from swimming for almost fifteen years. Living in Texas and struggling to control his weight, Tom Boak jumped back into the pool in 1977 to swim some laps at the Woodlands Athletic Center. At the Woodlands, his friend Dick Smith, the legendary Hall of Fame diving coach, suggested he join the masters team. A few months later, he swam in his first Masters meet in San Antonio. The meet turned out to be the 1978 USMS Short Course Nationals. So began Tom’s life in masters.

Tom continued swimming in meets for the next several years, going to nationals at Mission Viejo, Ft. Lauderdale and Irvine. In 1981, The Woodlands bid for short course nationals, and he agreed to be the meet director. He also made the decision to attend the 1981 United States Aquatic Sports (USAS) Convention so he could fully understand the process of organizing and running a USMS national championship event. By the end of the convention, he had been appointed as Chairman of the Championship Committee. During his term, from 1981 to 1985, he travelled to the World Championships in Tokyo and Brisbane as the representative of USMS and became active in Masters Swimming International. At the 1985 convention, Tom was elected President of United States Masters Swimming, a position he held through 1989. As Past-President, he served an additional four years on the USMS Board of Directors. He also served four years as Chairman of the Rules Committee, four years as Chairman of the Finance Committee and two years as USMS Treasurer. He is currently serving as Treasurer of the United States Aquatic Sports. Boak has received many local and national awards for his service to Masters Swimming. Among them is USMS’s highest honor, the Ransom J. Arthur, M.D. Award.

Looking back on his years in Masters swimming, he says that Masters has given him much more than he could ever give back. It was through masters that he met his wife Carolyn, many friends and a healthy lifestyle.

Tom is also an accomplished swimmer, earning three world championship titles and over a hundred top ten swims, but when Masters Swimming was in its infancy, he will always be remembered for helping Masters Swimming grow and become a discipline recognized by FINA.