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by Meegan Wilson

January 5, 2011

A lifetime of swimming

Woody Bowersock died in November of 2010 at the age of 97. Swimming was his favorite pastime. He had grown up in Milwaukee and was leery of the water as a child, but finally learned to swim when he was 12 years old. He tried out for high school swimming, but didn't make the team. However his interest in swimming continued in college and he became chairman of the intramural swim program at the Wisconsin State Teachers College at La Crosse.

Woody was a retired elementary school principal from Tustin Unified School in Tustin, California. He started swimming Masters in 1978 when he was 64. He also competed as a 65 year old that same year, and in 1979 he set his first world record in the 50 free.

His arthritis flared up in 1985 and he had to put his swimming on hold due to the pain he was suffering. This was eventually helped by hot water therapy and with only two months of training he was able to attended the Fina World Championships in Tokyo, Japan in 1986. There he claimed a gold medal in the 50 freestyle in the 70-74 age group in a time of 33.21.

Bowersock had another setback in 1990 when he suffered a heart attack. He had to cut back on his training somewhat, but by the age of 94 he had set 22 world records. Woody was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2007. This was also the last year he competed for Long Beach Masters.


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