Gus Langner is the reason I joined Masters swimming. When I swam at Yale in the mid-1980's, the furthest thing from my mind was to continue swimming after college. However, Gus was a timer at most of our dual meets and he soon realized that I was from Connecticut. Starting in my sophomore year, he would often take me aside and tell me in a semi-hushed voice, "You have to swim Masters for Connecticut after you graduate." Not taking him seriously, I didn't give it much thought, but the idea did float around the back of my head since I loved swimming; I just needed a mental break.
Well, I found myself back in the pool very soon after graduation, swimming because I loved to swim, not because someone else wanted me to do it. And even though I lived in New York City at the time, I first joined Connecticut Masters because I didn't know where else to join but I also felt a certain degree of loyalty, especially to Gus, who had been intereseted enough to encourage me.
Gus is still encouraging to me to this day. He has been a witness to many of my early-life changes, always asking me about how things are going. He is now especially keen on my daughter, Julia, and always wants to know how her swimming is.
At one point, when I was old (wise?) enough to appreciate his longevity in our sport, I told him that I loved to watch him swim. He shot back, "No, Marcia. I love to watch you swim!" In 1993, at USMS Summer Nationals in Minnesota, he was bouncing around like an 8-and-under and I asked him if he was going to set all the records in his new age group of 90-94. He snapped, "Yes becaues I don't know if I'll be around next year!." It was also at this meet that I told him that I was going to attempt to swim the English Channel the following year. He got very defensive and told me "Don't torture yourself!" When I sent him a post card telling him I'd made it the next year, he told me he was ecstatic because I had completed the swim on his birthday, July 29th.
I enjoy counting for him in his longer races and cheering for him in the short ones. Gus is one of the real inspirations to all of us in Masters swimming and it is my pleasure and good fortune to count him as a friend and to have him get me into this great organization.