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by Rich Barkan

April 21, 2002

All-American Masters Swimmer Pearl Sobel passed away today. Pearl was married to multiple world-record holder Gerson Sobel . While Gerson was a swimmer from High School and College, Pearl only started swimming 15 or 20 years ago because she was "tired of just sitting around while Gerson swam in practices and meets".

Addie Quinn of Lido Beach swam with the Sobels in the Freeport Wrecks Masters team; "Pearl was a great lady. She inspired us all. She once told me 'If I can swim a 200 IM (Individual Medley of four strokes), you can swim 400 IM'. And I did."

"I told her, Pearl, you're in the top ten [fastest times] for your age group. She said 'There's not ten of us IN our age group'".

Pearl was ranked at the top of her age group in 1997 with the fastest swims of the year for the 50 fly (yards and meters) and again in 1999 for the 100 IM (the individual medley strokes are butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle).

Pearl was ranked in the top ten of her age group 29 times since 1993 according to USMS archives.

Pearl was personally inspiring to me over the last few years as I became a competitive swimmer again. To see Pearl doing the 50 fly, a stroke that most of the swimmers shy away from because of the effort involved, was a great thing.

Pearl is survived by Husband Gerson, children Jim, Tom and Judy and numerous grandchildren.

Services will be on Wednesday, February 14th at 2:30 at Guttermans on Long Beach Road in Rockville Centre.

Two images of Pearl from the NY State Championship meet last April are available at In one she is by Gerson's side as he exits the water following his new world record in the 100 free. Another is a candid shot on the pool deck as she prepared to swim the 50 fly.

If you have any remembrances, stories or images to share, please send them to me or give me a call at work at (212) 250-5667 or e-mail me.


Rich Barkan