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by Michael Watkins

May 5, 2022

Doris Steadman and Jane Katz will be inducted in October

Doris Steadman and Jane Katz will be inducted this year into the Masters International Swimming Hall of Fame on Oct. 15 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Steadman, who swam for Garden State Masters, will enter posthumously as an Honor Swimmer, and Katz, a member of AGUA Masters, will enter as an Honor Contributor. Both are being recognized for their impact in and out of the water.

Doris Steadman, Garden State Masters

Steadman was a nationally ranked backstroker in her youth, but it took a few decades for her to get back into competitive swimming as an adult.

Once she did, however, Steadman shined.

She recorded three FINA Masters Top 10s and 190 USMS Top 10s, and set 48 individual USMS records before passing away at the age of 88 in 2013.

“Mom would not believe it (her induction),” says Nancy Steadman Martin, Steadman’s daughter. “She would be so ecstatic. She would probably be able to break a few more world records just thinking about it. It feels like the ultimate honor in swimming. I only wish she were here to accept the honor.”

Steadman decided to get back in the water at the age of 56 when she was inducted into the Temple University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979.

“That next year, my dad got asked to announce at the Masters nationals in Fort Lauderdale, and my mom said, ‘Let's go,’” Steadman Martin says. “We both competed, and my dad announced. It was at this first meet for her that she became hooked.”

Steadman met her husband, Dick, because of swimming. He was a captain in the U.S. Army and went to the club where she lifeguarded to swim and dive.

He became an assistant swim coach at Yale University and was head coach at Columbia University before leading the swimming, diving, and water polo teams at Monmouth University. Steadman served as his administrative assistant.

“I did not realize what a young swimming star she was until my early teenage years when I saw her scrapbooks,” Steadman Martin says. “Her maiden name was Doris Cant, and many of the headlines in the news articles in her scrapbooks would use her maiden name and say, ‘Doris Cant but She Can Win,’ or words to that effect.”

Steadman traveled the country and world to swim in meets with her daughter and competed until she was 83. She battled Alzheimer’s in her later years but continued to swim. Despite the disease, her daughter says, Steadman always knew what to do when she was in the water.

“Mom always thought of Masters swimming as her place to excel and shine,” Steadman Martin says. “Swimming provided me with such a strong bond with my mom. Yes, we were linked by blood, but water sealed us together.

“We shared so many laughs and made so many friends through swimming. She was my best friend, and it was, in large part, because of all the swimming adventures that we shared.”

Jane Katz, AGUA Masters

Over the better part of the past 50 years, Katz has contributed to USMS in many ways: as an administrator, educator, and competitor.

She served on the Sports Medicine and Science Committee from 2004–2017 and on the Fitness Education Committee in 1997. She received the USMS June Krauser Communications Award and the USMS Swimming Fitness Award in 2011.

As a swimmer, the AGUA Masters member has recorded 783 individual USMS Top 10 times, is a 39-time USMS All-American, and broken 40 USMS records.

Despite all of her contributions and accomplishments in and around the sport of swimming, Katz says being inducted this year wasn’t expected.

“It is always humbling to be recognized by your peers and by those that look up to you,” Katz says. “Often, the honor comes at the most unexpected moment. Recently, while going into the 14th Street Y in the Lower East Side (in New York City), a woman leaving came up to me and said, ‘Jane, you’ve changed my life. Thank you.’

“Over my lifetime, I gave generously of my time to USMS and other organizations because I knew my name recognition would bring in press, donations, and people. People sought my counsel, and every summer it seemed The New York Times would send a cub (inexperienced) reporter out to my pool at John Jay College to find out what I was doing. Their paper with my emphasis on swimming went all over the country.”

Katz, 79, started swimming as a youngster, learning from her parents.

“My parents gave me a choice: swimming or piano,” says Katz, who competed on Team USA’s synchronized swim team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. “My grandparents were piano teachers and filled in at Carnegie Hall. Needless to say, swimming won.”

She competed in a recreational fun swim in New York City when she was around 5 years old at the Asher Levy public pool and finished first.

Her 49 years as a Masters swimmer began in 1973 when she won two All-American titles and swam eight other Top 10 times. 

She landed her first position in education in 1963 teaching swimming at her high school. She taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for several decades before retiring from teaching in 2019.

All the while, she was writing and teaching about the positive impact of swimming. Her first book, “Swimming for Total Fitness: A Progressive Aerobic Program,” published in 1981, was the first of 17 based on her life experiences.

Although she’s three years removed from retirement, she hasn’t slowed down.

Katz is working with returning veterans in a program she developed called W.E.T.s for VETS, which helps clients reintegrate into the community and lets them know their personal worth.

She says she’s particularly proud of her membership in the National Drowning Prevention Association as she is of all the lifeguards she trained.

“Life is a struggle that with focus and dedication can be turned into a celebration,” Katz says. “Swimming is like life, a series of life lessons: holding your stroke, pacing yourself, doing your best in workouts, and picking your swims to challenge yourself.”


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