The New England Masters Swim Club member spent 50 years serving USMS
When he learned about the 1st Annual National Masters Swimming Championship, Ted Haartz figured he and a few of his friends could be competitive at the 1971 version of the meet.
He was right. The four-member Boys Club of Waltham finished sixth.
But Haartz’s decision to make the 2,000-mile drive from Boston to Amarillo, Texas, in a Volkswagen Camper also set in motion his integral role in helping create U.S. Masters Swimming and making a dramatic impact on the many people he met on pool decks around the country before he died last Friday at the age of 92.
His half-century with USMS produced a dramatic impact on him.
“Obviously, Masters means much to me,” Haartz said in profile of him in the February 1993 issue of NEM News, a newsletter for the New England Masters Swim Club. “The friendships have been very important. It’s great exercise, even though the joints are protesting more as I age. The pool has been for me a place to go to get away from the pressures of daily living. I like the idea that I am healthier than I might otherwise be due to the regular exercise and 30-plus years of chlorine antiseptic treatment.”
Haartz volunteered tirelessly throughout his half-century with the organization.
After becoming a charter member of New England Masters, he began maintaining the national Top 10s in 1972 and national records in 1975. He was elected Secretary of the AAU Masters Swimming Committee in 1977 and then served a four-year term as president of the AAU Masters Swimming Committee, the first person to hold that role.
During Haartz’s tenure as president, Masters Swimming broke away from the Amateur Athletic Union and became an independent organization, one of the few such Masters national governing bodies in the world. He considered this his most significant contribution to the organization.
Haartz then served as the third president of USMS, following Ransom Arthur and June Krauser, two of the most well-known figures in the organization’s history. He also helped establish USMS’s original 55 LMSCs, served on multiple committees over the decades, and attended countless annual meetings to help shape the organization’s future. He also served as USMS's liaison to USA Swimming from 1981 to 2011.
“Ted Haartz was a founding father of U.S. Masters Swimming,” says Tamalpais Aquatic Club member Nancy Ridout, a former president of USMS. “He helped lay the foundation for this organization, which has grown spectacularly and made a difference in the lives of thousands. He guided the program, worked well with others to make it succeed, and participated on many levels. Ted left his indelible mark on this organization, and he will never be forgotten.”
Haartz’s exemplary efforts were recognized in 1976 with the Capt. Ransom J. Arthur M.D. Award, the highest volunteer honor and which is given annually to the person who has done the most to further the objectives of the organization, generally over an extended period.
To fully recognize Haartz’s contributions, USMS began awarding the Ted Haartz Staff Appreciation Award annually in 2009 to a volunteer or group of volunteers who demonstrates excellence in assisting and supporting the National Office staff with its professional duties in serving members and promoting the organization.
Haartz was inducted into the Masters International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2013 for his national and international volunteer efforts.
“Ted Haartz—what a man, what a volunteer, what a leader, what a swimmer, what an official,” Michigan Masters member Skip Thompson says. “He was such a gentleman and nice guy and very helpful to all swimmers. I will miss him as a friend, and I will never forget him.”
His accomplishments in the pool were also numerous.
Following a record-setting career at Tufts University, Haartz set multiple FINA Masters world records and 30 individual USMS records, recorded 492 individual USMS Top 10 times, and was a 19-time individual USMS All American.
Those closest to Haartz will remember his volunteerism, his swimming, and, most of all, him.
“Ted was a true gentleman, humble, funny, and a total team player,” says longtime volunteer and National Office staff member Tracy Grilli. “He was a leader and mentor who inspired so many of us here in New England and at the national level. Just a really great person. I am fortunate to say he was a lifelong friend of mine.”
USMS Past Presidents Share Their Thoughts on Ted Haartz
The death of New England Masters Swim Club member Ted Haartz reverberated through the USMS community. Here are some thoughts from other past presidents of the organization on Haartz.
Think about it. Ted Haartz was at Nationals in Amarillo, at the very beginning of USMS. When I think of Ted, what comes to mind is how seldom he spoke, but when he did, it was on target and important. He was always a voice of reason in the midst of chaos.
I remember talking about nationals with him. At Long Course in Providence, he seeded the meet on his living room floor (remember the pink and blue cards that had to be filled out and then seeded, all by hand?). I had to do the same thing in 1982, sitting on the floor at Jill Gellatly’s parents' home (which was just down the street from mine). Then the heat sheet needed to be typed – yes, on a typewriter!!! How things have changed.
At June Krauser’s last Convention, I stood before the House of Delegates and described her (I was in tears) as a USMS treasure. At Ted’s last Convention, I remember sitting in my seat when he spoke and thinking that it wouldn’t be long until he wasn’t there anymore. Now we have lost another of our treasures. Hopefully, where he is now, there is a 50-meter pool where Ransom, June, and Ted can all have their own lane.
Ted Haartz was a leader that took command exactly when Masters Swimming was in its most formative years. He followed a true visionary, June Krauser. Sadly, we have now lost both of them. USMS has an enormous debt of gratitude to these pioneers. Ted remained youthful in outlook and energy, regardless of age. Despite his selfless humble nature, he commanded respect and always was there for any of the presidents that followed him. During my presidency (2001-2005), I assigned him a difficult position representing USMS as our delegate to the USA Swimming Board of Directors. That position required an individual that understood our sport from the beginner to the Olympic level. They had to be fully aware of what it required to become a champion and how to support those gifted athletes. Ted did not need a lot of indoctrination. He took the position and excelled.
I am proud to have known Ted and considered him a friend and mentor. I am a far better leader in the swimming world, locally, nationally, and now internationally because of Ted. I will always miss you, Ted.
The word that always comes to mind when I think about Ted is wisdom. Ted was wise in everything he did. He was wise in the plans he created for USMS's foundation—the corporate structure, the governance, the linkages to other national governing bodies. He was wise in the approaches he espoused to achieving the mission of Masters Swimming—from national championships, to professional management, to funding opportunities to teach adults to swim. Ted was wise in how he interacted with his USMS president successors and the Board of Directors, knowing when to listen and when to interject his well-conceived comments. And Ted was kind to share his wisdom and advice with me. I will always remember and appreciate Ted's lessons and wisdom, offered humbly and supportively. Ted's impact on USMS will be felt forever. And I will always remember and call upon his sage advice and exemplary manner.
I first met Ted at the April Fools meet held in Wilton, Connecticut, on April 1, 1972. Ted arrived with Hal Onusite and Enid Eurich. Together with Dorothy Donnelly, they took over the organization of Masters Swimming in Connecticut and New England. Subsequently New England Masters and CONN Masters became common names in Masters Swimming.
Ted took on innumerable responsibilities and at Convention became the vice president. I took on the role as legal counsel. At the conclusion of Ted's terms, I was nominated to take his place as president. Being a solo legal practitioner, I was concerned as to what the time aspect of this position would be, so I called Ted and discussed it. Ted single-handedly had taken on every aspect of Masters Swimming and was spending 20 to 40 hours a week in his "volunteer" position. I told Ted that there was no way that I could spend that kind of time. So together we figured out a way to delegate the responsibilities that he was doing alone to committees. Needless to say, we did that at the next convention, and everything went smoothly with the large number of USMS volunteers that we had at the Convention.
At the Convention when I became president, Ted assigned me the responsibility of presenting the Capt. Ransom J. Arthur M.D. Award which was going to Harry Rawstrom, who was not at the Convention. With the help of the USMS members present, we came up with a humorous skit to present it at the awards dinner. Ted was nervous about this approach since the AAU was very formal about its presentations. Nevertheless, Ted went along with it and the presentation was a big success and has continued since that day.
It has been a pleasure for me to have known Ted and worked with him over the years. His passing is a great loss to Masters Swimming.
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