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by Daniel Paulling

May 11, 2021

The award is given annually to the volunteer who's done the most to further the objectives of Masters Swimming

Bob Bruce was in awe.

When he attended his first annual meeting in 2000, he couldn’t believe how complex running U.S. Masters Swimming was. The Oregon Masters member was amazed by, as he describes it, “how all of these little wheels sort of click and the organization ran itself on volunteers.”

Since then, Bruce has been one of those volunteers who make those wheels click.

He represented the Oregon LMSC as an annual meeting delegate for years before serving USMS on a national level. Bruce joined the Coaches Committee in 2002, the Long Distance Committee and USMS’s Board of Directors in 2003, and the Open Water Committee in 2011.

His 23 years of volunteerism at the local and national levels led to his receiving the 2021 Capt. Ransom J. Arthur M.D. Award, which is USMS’s most prestigious volunteer award and is given annually to a volunteer who’s done the most to further the objectives of Masters Swimming.

“One of the reasons we do the work is so that the organization runs and people have good experiences,” Bruce says. “It’s that level of service which is really why we do all the work. Don’t get me wrong: It’s nice to be recognized. This is one of the honors that I’m going to sit here and ponder for a long time. But we do it for the service. We don’t do it for the awards.”

His volunteering has led to repeated awards.

Bruce was the inaugural recipient of the Open Water Service Award in 2013 and the inaugural recipient of the Long Distance National Championship Award in 2019. He also received a Dorothy Donnelly Service Award in 2012.

“Bob has worked tirelessly and with professional vigor for the past 23 years on every level within U.S. Masters Swimming,” Oregon Masters member Tim Waud wrote in the nomination packet on behalf of Bruce. “He is a coach, mentor, meet director, event director, committee chair, legislator, and he embodies the spirit of ‘Swimming for Life.’

“Whether it be the pool, lake, river, or House of Delegates, Bob uses his experience and expertise to create a unique environment for everyone to be safe, knowledgeable, and engaged. Bob’s exceptional commitment and enthusiasm for our sport and USMS are apparent in his dedication as a swimmer himself as well as the profound amount of time and energy he invests as a volunteer to ensure high-quality opportunities exist for USMS members to participate.”

Bruce’s start in volunteerism came because of his coaching career.

Shortly after moving to Bend, Oregon, in the mid-1990s, Bruce started coaching the Masters program. Many of his swimmers had a background in open water swimming, an area in which he wanted to expand his knowledge, leading him to become the Oregon LMSC’s coaches chair.

The initiatives he led in that role included providing clinics, a coach on deck at all Oregon LMSC meets, and a coach on deck at USMS’s national championships. Bruce describes this as “probably some of the best work I’ve ever done.”

Because of that work he received the USMS Coach of the Year Award in 2003. He joins Indy Aquatic Masters's Mel Goldstein, Virginia Masters Swim Team's Jim Miller, Michigan Masters's Skip Thompson, and Swim Kentucky Masters's Bill Tingley as the only people who have received USMS's highest awards for both volunteerism and coaching.

Through his coaching, Bruce became more interested in and an expert at open water swimming. He works as the event director for multiple open water events each year, including this year’s USMS 2-Mile Cable Open Water National Championship on June 26.

He combined his love of open water swimming and volunteering by serving on the Long Distance and Open Water Committees for a combined 29 years. He was the rules wrangler—“That’s an official title,” he says—on the Long Distance Committee for 12 years, a time in which hundreds of rule proposals passed through his hands.

Bruce, 73, isn’t sure how much longer he’ll volunteer to the extent that he is on the national level, but he’s grateful for the past 23 years serving the Oregon LMSC and USMS.

“It’s just been a whirlwind ever since [his first annual meeting],” Bruce says. “It’s a total pleasure to work at the national level, but you can never forget the daily business of USMS is conducted in local pools and ponds. That’s been a good thing for me to remind myself on a daily basis—that it’s what happens here at home that’s the real source of our inspiration and power.”

Previous Capt. Ransom J. Arthur M.D. Award Recipients

2020    Frank "Skip" Thompson
2019    Jeffrey H Roddin
2018    Ed M Tsuzuki
2017    Michael W. Moore
2016    Nadine K Day
2015    Meg Smath
2014    Hill Carrow
2013    Patricia Miller
2012    Doug Church
2011    Rob Copeland
2010    Lynn Hazlewood
2009    Julie Heather
2008    Barry Fasbender
2007    Jeanne Ensign
2006    Sally Dillon
2005    Betsy Durrant
2004    Leo Letendre
2003    Sandi Rousseau
2002    Hugh Moore, Jane Moore
2001    Carolyn Boak
2000    Joan Smith, Richard Smith
1999    Jim Miller
1998    William Tingley
1997    Mel Goldstein
1996    Suzanne Rague
1995    Mary Lee Watson
1994    Nancy Ridout
1993    Kathrine Casey, Gail Dummer
1992    Walt Reid
1991    Tom Boak
1990    Jack Geoghegan
1989    Dan Gruender, Edie Gruender
1988    John Spannuth
1987    Ross Wales
1986    Robert Beach
1985    Michael A. Laux
1984    Reg Richardson
1983    Dorothy Donnelly
1982    Harry Rawstrom
1981    Cindy Baxter
1980    Ed Reed Sr., Enid Uhrich
1979    Ray Taft, Zada Taft
1978    Hamilton Anderson, Mildred Anderson
1977    Paul Hutinger
1976    F.H. "Ted" Haartz
1975    Hal Onusseit
1974    June Krauser
1973    Ransom J. Arthur


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