USMS Award Recipient

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

Recipient: Ann Hirsch
Year: 2017
LMSC: Pacific

Ann Hirsch began swimming at the age of five, at her local country club in Kirkwood, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. As her parents golfed, Ann learned to swim. She had no coach, and basically just watched the others and emulated them. Her love of swimming continued as her family moved to Washington, D.C. and finally to Honolulu for her high school years. Ann was lucky enough to be invited to join the Hawaii Swim Club, coached by the great ISHOF Honor Coach Soichi Sakamoto after she beat the top breaststroker in 1948. She even had a chance to attend the Olympic Trials but her father believed in education, putting swimming on the back burner, as she attended college in San Francisco.

Like many Masters swimmers, there was a gap in swimming in Ann’s life. She eventually married and had three children, who all played varsity sports, none were swimmers. It was in 1975, after the children were grown that Ann found the San Mateo Marlins. She says as soon as she began swimming again, it was as if she had never left.

In 1987, she joined the Walnut Creek Masters, training harder under the direction of many coaches. During Hirsch’s 40 years of competing, she has been in the Top Ten for a total of 37 years, missing the Top Ten only twice. She has set four long course and eight short course FINA Masters world records in the breaststroke and the I.M.

In world rankings since 1986, she has a total of 43- number 1, 91- number 2 and 110- number 3 world rankings in the breaststroke, freestyle, butterfly and the I.M. Ann competed in the 2006 FINA World Championships, winning four gold and one silver medal.

Hirsch has competed in nine age groups since 1987, (45-49 through 85-89). She was selected 2016 Pacific Masters Swimmer of the Year, not only in her age group, but in the entire organization. She has 40 All-American and 12 USMS All-Star rankings.

Ann says swimming has been very therapeutic throughout her life, as she faced many challenges; the death of her son in 1992, a diagnosis with ulcerative colitis, subsequent rotator cuff surgeries, and in 2016, a broken neck, from an automobile accident. She was in a neck brace for 12 weeks and wondered if she would ever swim again. Her USMS teammates and fellow swimmers, rallied round, visiting, sending words of encouragement, sending pictures and results from swim meets, which meant a great deal to Ann. In March 2017, at the age of 86, she got back in the water and she said, nothing ever felt so good!