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by Naji Ali

September 21, 2000

Illinois Masters -- IM

The first National LCM Masters meet at Bloomington, IN, in 1972, was an incentive for the Midwest swimmers to become more involved in the Masters swimming program. Ryall YMCA had a top age group team which gave the impetus to forming a Masters team. The top Ryall swimmer, Irene David , was one of the early Illinois Masters and is still one of their leaders. Other Illinois teams included the University of Chicago, Ridge Park, Evanston Y, Carbondale and Western Illinois University. Swimmers at the 1972 meet who are still competing, include Art Koblish , Dick Upsall , Paul Hutinger , Barbara Jackson (Barbara Reeve), and Irene David.

In 1974, at a Masters meet in Springfield, IL, Reeve and Hutinger organized a group of Illinois swimmers, which became the Illinois Masters. The purpose was to have a composite team that was interested in competing at Nationals. This organization paid off, with 42 swimmers entering the LCM meet in St. Louis, in 1976 and winning 1st place. The Ryall Y and Shabbona teams did not want to lose their local identity, and each competed with 11 swimmers.

The Illinois program allowed the clubs to swim for their local teams in Illinois meets, and combine for National meets. Many other states across the country use this system.

The Most Amazing Anchor -- Kay Schimpf

(written August, 1996 for SPM and FL LMSC newsletters)

I have been in Masters swimming since the 2nd Nationals in Amarillo, 1971, and have swum on many top performance relays. There were two world records at the Worlds, in Australia, 1988. At Pan Pacific, SCM, 1989, I had my top performance, 29.2, in a 200 mixed free relay, 200-239 age group. That record stood for 10 years, with each of the four swimmers averaging under 30 sec. However, on a Sunday morning in August, those relays were overshadowed. Not by the time, although it was a National record; but by participating on a relay that included the most amazing performance and concentration by an anchor, Kay Schimpf, I have seen in Masters swimming.

The record in the 400 m mixed medley relay, 280-319 age group, was 7:18.33, set by a California team in 1992. In our relay, my back split of 1:27, was fair for a 70 year old. Alan Maloney 's breast split, 1:42, was excellent for a 66 year old. Flo Carr, 70, swam 2:05 for her fly, slower than usual, as she swam the 200 m IM, only 10 minutes before our relay. The elapsed time on the score board clock showed 5:15. Kay Schimpf, our 78 year young anchor, stood on the block. Before she dived in, she quickly peeked at the clock, knowing she needed a 2:00 split to give us the record. On her last 20 meters, Kay could see the clock, ticking close to 7:00. She put her head down and did a "no breather" on the last eight strokes (amazing for even a younger swimmer)! Her touch out at 7:16.12 gave her a 2:00 split and our team the National record.

I will always remember Kay Schimpf as the best anchor I ever witnessed and had the pleasure of swimming with. This was a world class performance -- a 78 year young woman checking the clock, knowing the record time, knowing what she needs to make it a reality for her team and topping it off with a "nobreather" finish. Congratulations to Kay for a most memorable experience.

Three One-Hour Swims in Three Weeks! -- Dr. Konrad Euler

(written March, 1996 for SPM and FL LMSC newsletters)

Who do you know in Masters swimming that would swim a 1650 the 1st week in January, and one-hour swims on the second, third and again, fourth week? One of the most unforgettable characters that I have met in 25 years of Masters swimming, and the most persistent, is Dr. Konrad Euler. At age 60, he is a new member of St. Pete Masters, and someone the team can use as a role model. Let me elaborate on his January performances: Week one--1650 in 25:17.2; Week two--hour swim, 3755 yards (at 2,000 yards, he developed a leg cramp); Week three--hour swim, 3770 yards (leg cramp, again); Week four--hour swim, 3835 yards (no leg cramp, and 1650 split as fast as week one). This gave him 12th place in the National rankings. In February, he competed in the Senior Games in Bradenton, and swam 400 meters Free in 6:12, which is fast enough to place him in the top four at past LC Nationals. The reason this is even more outstanding is the fact that Konrad is handicapped. His left leg is approximately 3 1/2 inches shorter than his right, a result of damage sustained from osteomyelitis . You can appreciate what he gives up on a turn and pushoff by doing a 1650 with one-legged pushoffs. How much slower would you be?

Konrad was born in Germany, June 2, 1935. His leg was infected as a three year old, before sulfa drugs and antibiotics were available. He spent 10 years in a hospital, part of the time in a full body cast. In high school, the doctors removed his braces. All through school, Konradýs father instilled a positive self-image in his son, "Even with your handicap, anything that you want to do is possible." Konrad followed his fatherýs advice and set goals while he was a part of the excellent sports program in Germany, and also, later in his professional life. He developed into the regional best in gymnastics; 2nd in swimming; 100 meter run--12.6 seconds; high jump over 5 feet; shot put over 40 feet. To accomplish such outstanding performances, he worked twice as hard as the average athlete. This work ethic transferred into his professional career, as he sought the highest medical degree given in Germany, and was conferred the life time title of Doctor.

Konrad had been vacationing in St. Pete for the past 20 years. He and his wife, Waltraut, also a physician, worked together running a clinic in Germany. They retired early, and will live in St. Pete in the winter, and in Canada, in the summer. Herbie, their son, born January 23, 1968, was a champion age-group swimmer, with a 1500 meter time of 17:07 as a 16 year old. Herbie is presently working on an advanced law degree.

Konrad's studies in medicine gave him the background in exercise for his handicap. Special leg therapy and 1,000 meters a day swims, have been his special program his entire adult life. Now, as a retired Doctor with more time, he averages 3,500 yards a day, with some 5,000 yard days. He is a serious competitor who believes in excellence in everything . His short and long term goals in swimming have already brought him amazing performance results. Persistence, an admirable characteristic, results in the ability to maximize his potential. Konrad, a most amazing person, represents a role model to many Master swimmers.