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by Ronnie Kamphausen

April 1, 2002

"A smile and a story for everyone"

Harry Bartlett has been swimming most of his life. The sport has served him well as the All-American eases into his 86th year. Small in stature, but huge in competition, he is regularly seen climbing the starting blocks as a Connecticut Master. Breaststroke and freestyle are his favorites, but don't be surprised to have him "beat your pants off" in backstroke events, too.

What makes Harry so special? He is full of stories and isn't afraid of telling a few from his wild and wooly youth—such as when he was climbing Mt. Washington with a friend. They decided on a hot day to cool off in the water tanks used to power the steam engines. Just as they shed their clothes, around the bend came the cable car causing their rapid exit from the water! He also has wild tales of his sailing in less than calm waters on Long Island, causing his wife to make a few vigorous protests. Harry will keep you amused so that before you know it, you have had your workout shortened by all the talking.

Harry has not used the fly in competition, but he flew plenty of airplanes during WWII. He flew submarine patrol in A-20 and DB-7 planes. He served overseas in England and Europe as a Master Sergeant Crew Chief in the Eighth Air Force. There, he flew B-24 and B-17s. Harry is full of stories of his experiences in the U.S. Army Air Force.

Connecticut has been Harry's home for most of his life. He has swum in the Waterbury YMCA for as long as anyone can remember. Apart from swimming, he has been active in photo engraving and advertising businesses right up until recent years. He has always had time for the Masons and Rotary Club. In the Rotary, Harry had 50 years of perfect attendance and received the Paul Harris Fellow Award. He is a Deacon/Trustee in his church. At the church, he is on the property committee, probably because he is handy with tools. He and his wife, Dot, built their own house. Remember that sailboat he sailed on Long Island Sound? He also built many boats in his spare time!

Swimming will always be a large part of his life. One of his motivations is to keep track of his swimming mileage over the years. The Waterbury papers ran an article about his swimming his 3,000th mile when he turned 73 years! Asked how the miles are piling up these days, he said last he looked, it was close to 6,000 miles! That takes a bit of bookkeeping, if you ask me, but it keeps Harry in the pool and swimming each day 1,000-1,500 yards.

Harry uses swimming to keep his body trim (which hasn't an ounce of unnecessary fat.) He also enjoys attending the Senior Olympics every two years, usually combining the competition with visits to his children who live across the country. In the last Senior Games, he won every event he entered. Wherever Harry goes, he makes friends for Masters swimming. He has a smile, and yes, a story for everyone.