Article image

by Sandy Steer

January 6, 2001

In Memory of Jayne Mann Lambke

JULY 27, 1939 - NOVEMBER 25, 2000

Jayne Mann Lambke was born in Oklahoma and spent the first several years of her life there. She began swimming at an early age and soon showed promise of becoming an outstanding swimmer. At the age of 13, she broke the 50 meter freestyle record for the 13 - 14 age group at the Southeastern U.S. Junior Olympic Meet. Jayne's time was 32.8. The old record was 33.0. Jayne married early and began her family. While living in New Orleans, she began to coach age group swimmers. She missed swimming and competing and joined the Masters. When Jayne moved to St. Petersburg, she joined the St. Pete Masters, and with George Bole 's skillful coaching, she began to break all kinds of records. She was an All American each year since 1989. In 1994 and 1995, she was selected as an All Star by U.S.M.S. She was also selected Long Distance All American in 1995. Although Jayne had not been feeling well for over a year, she competed at Short Course Nationals in Indianapolis last May and won all six of her events! Jayne Mann Lambke will be missed by swimmers all over the world. Her out-going personality, her encouragement, her warmth touched many of us.

Tributes to Jayne

from George Bole, Coach, St. Pete Masters

I've been asked to contribute an article on Jayne and I find this very difficult to do.

Firstly, I am at a loss to believe her gone. Completely stunned. Each morning I'm looking, expecting to see her floating into the North Shore Complex. I argue with myself as to the possibility of there being a mistake. Maybe I've got it wrong. Jayne can't be dead, gone from us without possible return. Jayne, whose looks and warmth rivaled the sunrises across Tampa Bay each morning. Jayne, whose presence shone like a beacon, the cynosure of all eyes at every pool in the circuit. Everyone knew her, everyone admired her, and everyone, without exception, loved her.

Jayne was, without a doubt, a great swimmer, as her record shows. One of her great performances was at the Masters Pan Pacific Championships at Indianapolis in 1990 when she won all six events she'd entered and broke three world records in the process. As always, Jayne was confident and assured of victory in her mind. She trained hard and believed - a great competitor.

Jayne was a great and always loyal team member. She held positions on the SPM board, yes even president and, as was her wont, did a wonderful job.

No one was a better host. She entertained many of us at her homes over the years, always lively, always smiling, enjoying everyone's presence. She loved SPM and did so much to help establish its worldwide reputation for being one of the most hospitable clubs in Masters swimming.

Not only was she a great athlete and team member, she was a great friend, again loyal and true in all her dealings. She did many good turns for people, showing compassion relative to her other wonderful qualities.

She spent thirteen glorious years with us in St. Petersburg, helping us build the super club we are. Her name was synonymous with success, whatever she undertook.

The many times she took members of the team sailing - occasions to savor - showed her magnificent control of the ship and extended everyone's opinion of her wonderful versatility.

And, if I have a choice of epitaph, it would proudly read, "I coached Jayne Lambke "!

from Sandy Steer , St. Pete Masters

The lights at North Shore Pool dimmed when Jayne Lambke passed away. But if you look in the night sky, you will see a new bright star in the firmament. Jayne has left us but she will never really be gone because she continues to live in the hearts of each of us. When I met Jayne, my first impression was that this was a ditzy woman. However, as I got to know her, my respect for her grew by leaps and bounds. Jayne and I worked together on the SPM board for several years. Jayne served as president, vice president and as a member of the board for several years. I came to respect her opinions and admire her ability to get things done. She was a tireless worker who was always ready to open her home for Board meetings, parties, or just informal get-togethers. More importantly, she opened her heart to swimmers every where. It seemed like no matter where I swam, when people found out I was a St. Pete Master, they asked me about Jayne and said to give her their regards. Jayne taught us all the true meaning of friendship. I took Jayne for a lung x-ray in early November. Because she had accumulated quite a bit of fluid in the lung, I took her to the hospital emergency room. She was weak and in pain and I had to get a wheel chair for her. But, on the way to emergency, she said to her Mom who was sitting in the back seat of my car, "Mother, do you have your lipstick with you?" Her Mom fished around in her purse and gave her one. Jayne then said, "Is that the only color you have?" When her Mom replied yes, she pulled down the visor, looked in the mirror and applied lipstick. Jayne never wanted to look less than her best, no matter where she was! I am 29 days older than Jayne and have competed in the same age group with her since she came to St. Pete. I could never beat her, but we always joked about the possibility that one day I would. I miss you, Jayne.

from Gary Bastie , St. Pete Masters

A wisp of a refreshing breeze against your face on a hot summer's day. A smile that brightens everyone within its gentle radius. A teammate that cares more about your race that she does hers. Someone that could make you feel special and important even though you knew you were one of a thousand. A worthy competitor in any event, any year, any time of the year. Lipstick that matched her latex cap and just the "right" suit to show them both off. A kind word and just the right question for you at just the right time. Fun on wheels. A Mardi Gras party waiting for a place to happen. An open door for anyone that needed a place. Special memories. Can't get that grin out of my mind...don't want to...see ya' later, Jayne.

from Sarah Tyler , Sierra Nevada Masters

Jayne, Florence Carr and I roomed together at the Long Course Nationals in Michigan in an effort to conserve resources. I barely knew either of them and had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Jayne arrived late, in a flurry of suitcases and explanations for her tardiness. We stayed up late talking. They filled me in on 25 years of masters swimming "information" as I was a relative newcomer to the scene. Throughout the meet, Jayne always asked if I wanted to accompany her on her many social engagements. It was like being the younger (although not that much younger) sister of the Prom Queen. It was then that I realized what a generous, genuine, as well as a beautiful person, she was. Since then, she always expected that my sister and I would stay at her house during the St. Pete meets. One day at lunch, she told me a lot about her life, her early swimming career, sailing, dance, marriage, kids, boy friends, etc. At the time, I found the conversation to be a description of a remarkable life. Now I am so thankful she shared all of that with me. I wish for her and for all of us that there was going to be more to share.

from Carl House , Boca Raton

When I met Jayne at 1989 Nationals, I learned she was one week older than I. That and lots more about her made me always alert and appreciative of her. She also invited Judy and friends, including me, to stay at her house once for a St. Pete meet. She made me sleep in an out of the way place because she said her boyfriend would shoot me in my sleep if he saw me. I think she is with her friend Anne McGuire now.

from Susan Tyler , Sierra Nevada Masters

One of the first Nationals I ever went to was in Cupertino...the meet was huge. I hardly knew a soul and I was hoping to survive the 100 fly on the last day of the meet. I found an empty and dry spot on the pool deck and was having no success in psyching myself up for the race when along comes Jayne. She sat with me for the duration talking about her races, the meet, swimming, people...the time went by so quickly. We got to the blocks just in time to swim. Jayne was always generous with her time and encouragement. We will be less without her.

from Bill Volckening , USMS Editor, SWIM Magazine Dear Coach Bole,

It is with great sadness and deep regret that I receive the news about Jayne Lambke. Jayne was not only a fine athlete, but she was a delightful lady. She will certainly be missed by the swimming community.

from Daniel, George Bole's grandson (age 15) Hello Grandpa (George Bole)

I'm really sad to hear about Jayne. That really upset me. If her family is in town would you please send my regards.

from Lisa Hudak Zarcone, St. Pete Masters

I am finding it very difficult to express my feelings in words to describe Jayne. I remember meeting Jayne for the very first time at the pool. From the "hello", I immediately knew that Jayne definitely was special. As the days, weeks, and months passed and we got to know each other better, I wished that I had such a ZEST for life like her!!! She had the perfect life and more. She was my Guardian Angel, right there by my side when I was so sick and took care of me as long as I needed her by re-arranging her schedule without giving it a second thought. She was my shoulder to cry on when things weren't going well and always tried to cheer me up. She cheered for me during my swimming events and was the first to say, "you did great". Jayne gave so much of herself and never asked for anything in return. In this world today, you don't find many people like Jayne. And when you do, you are very blessed that you can call a person like Jayne "your close friend". I will miss her dearly.

from Bruce Day, St. Pete Masters

"You should feel like your hand and arm is going over a barrel as it enters the water and don't forget to roll the same on your breath side as on your other side." It was 1992 and Jayne pushed off the wall and I followed, trying out this new way to swim the freestyle. And I was a bit faster. But Jayne still easily, it seemed, pulled away from me. What could you say about a beautiful lady who graced magazine covers with her muscles and her smile? And, almost 10 years later, all the male heads still turned when she walked on deck. She defied aging. She defined what it was to be a swimmer...and a friend. And in our mind's eye, she still swims among us, still walking the deck, still holding the stop watch, still baking those wonderful chocolate chip cookies, still snuggling up to and hugging George (no wonder he planned to coach "forever"), and still providing help to those eager beginner swimmers. I guess we all know that Jayne would never grow old and that she would be with us forever.

from Sally Dillon , Pacific Northwest Aquatics

My husband, Glen, and I met Jayne in Elizabethtown, KY, when we ran into her at a restaurant. We asked her to join us and have considered her a friend ever since. Her zest and enthusiasm for life was wonderful. Jayne was such a beautiful representative for masters swimming!

from Charlotte Petersen , St. Pete Masters

First of all, Jayne was one of the SPM members who called me in the hospital when I had my back surgery and she also called me during my recuperation. I remember telling her that she was an inspiration to me, doing what she did at her age and doing it so well.

When I heard of her illness before her surgery, I called her and she then told me that I was her inspiration, coming back from my surgery that strong.

I also remember Jayne and my Dad at Nationals in Santa Clara in 1999. Two "60 - something" grown-ups sitting there, teaching each other how to tie a boat shoe. Jayne won.

Last, but not least, Suzzette Seril and John and Kim Galloway and I were there when Jayne passed away. It was quiet and peaceful and I was happy to be there with her family. I think Jayne was waiting for her mother and her son who returned to her room shortly before she died. She did not, from a nurse's perspective, seem to suffer. May she rest in peace.

Love from Helynn and Harwell Moseley

We have memories of Jayne that will always bring a smile. Just her gorgeous self was one thing, but, her warmth and genuine caring was another...She always had a hug which Harwell looked forward to and will miss...I will always see her smiling, emerging from the water, tan and strong, the Winner!!! Kick butt, Jayne, and teach those angels how to do turns.

from Courtney and Dubravka Ross

Though weeks are passing, it is as unbelievable that Jayne is gone as it was on the day of her death. The common memory of her is always going to be associated with words such as vibrancy, energy, and beauty...but individually we all recall the unique ways in which she touched our lives. In our case, she brought us together. Jayne had the ability to see that we might be right for each other. We never got a chance to thank her enough.

(Editor's note: Courtney Ross knew Jayne and her parents when they were living in New Orleans and working in yacht brokerage. Dubravka is the Yugoslav "daughter" of Sandy and Don Steer. When she came to live with them while getting her medical license in the U.S., she joined SPM and met Jayne and it wasn't long before Jayne introduced her to Courtney.)

from Mike Milligan

In life, one meets a few very special individuals who seem to brighten up everywhere they go...that is what I remember about Jayne.

When she stepped on the pool deck, into a room, or on a boat, you knew that someone special had arrived, as smiles and laughter erupted around her.

I recall the very first time I walked onto the deck at North Shore Pool at 5:00 in the morning to see if I could join the team. The swimmers were busy getting into the water and the Coach was not sure about me...saying, "Just get in the water and lets see how you do".

The first person to welcome me as I jumped into the water was Jayne, as she popped up and quickly introduced herself (I soon learned this was her MO with every male swimmer who entered the pool!).

Her warmth made me feel at home.

And I will never forget the fact that she was the queen of matching apparel...changing suits at swim meets, not just daily, but for every race!!!

She welcomed each and every person who entered her life (or came close to passing by) with open arms. I feel fortunate to call her a friend. She will be missed.

from anonymous

Jayne Lambke is a true role model. Yes, winning six gold medals (at Short Course Nationals) is inspirational, but the Jayne Lambke out of the pool inspires me even more and makes me hope that I can positively influence future SPM newcomers just as she helped me. Although I did not swim to my expectations and was ready to scratch my 200 back and call it a meet, Jayne tracked me down IN THE LOCKER ROOM and persuaded me to swim. Through her experience, she knew that I needed to go through that 200 back for my own experience, and her insight and knowledge was invaluable.

Reprinted from July - August 2000 SPM newsletter. (Author anonymous)

The following, written by a woman named Ann Rutherford, seems to be appropriate here:

The clock is always ticking, the hands are moving slow,
And yet it is surprising how fast the hours go.
And when the hours turn to days the weeks are passing by,
It seems that time has sprouted wings as the years begin to fly.
Each precious moment of our lives is changed from "now" to "then",
Offered to us only once - and never comes again.

To the dedicated swimmers of St. Pete Masters,

My family and I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support, love, food, time, and most of all your prayers during these last few weeks. You, most of all, meant so much to Mother. She believed that swimming was the key to a happy, healthy life, but she gained so much more. The friendships she had with all of you gave her strength during her most difficult battle.

Thank you again for helping our family get through this.

Sincerely, Jenee Donaldson, Ann Cadis and Jay Lambke.

Jayne Mann Lambke Memorial Fund

Because St. Pete Masters meant so much to their mother, the children of Jayne Lambke have established the Jayne Mann Lambke Memorial Fund. This fund will be used at the discretion of the St. Pete Masters Board. The fund will be used for projects which the Board feels Jayne would have approved. Checks may be made payable to St. Pete Masters for the Jayne Mann Lambke Memorial Fund and sent to SPM, P.O. Box 449, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 - 0449. At the time of this writing, the fund has received $445.