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June Krauser: Senior Mermaid
By Patrick Kiger, August 11, 2014 07:27 PM
It's probably pretty rare to have someone launch a sports competition and then also excel in it. But that's the story of June Krauser.
Krauser, who died on Aug. 9 at age 88 in Pompano Beach, Fla., was one of the founders of U.S. Masters Swimming, a competition established in 1970 that provides swimmers an opportunity to compete against swimmers in their own age group, right up to the centenarian level. But Krauser did more than just write the program's rules and policies. She showed that she still had the ability that made her a top competitive swimmer in high school and college, by entering competitions and setting 154 age-group world records in various events from 1972 to 2002.
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Here are some facts about Krauser and her achievements as an athlete and organizer.
- Krauser learned to swim in Lake Michigan at age 4. Her mother was a competitive swimmer, basketball player and roller skater.
- She and her sister Cynthia both won national Amateur Athletic Union swimming titles in the 1940s, but World War II stymied their chance to compete in the Olympics.
- She went to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., where she competed on the swim team and graduated with a degree in home economics before starting a family with her businessman husband, who died in 2000.
- In the 1960s, she remained involved in swimming as a member of the U.S. Olympic Women's Swim Committee, and she reorganized and enforced the organization's official rule book.
- In 1970, after a U.S. Navy physician, Ransom Arthur, persuaded Coaches Association President John Spannuth to organize a national age-group championship meet for older swimmers, Spannuth enlisted Krauser to write the rules and organize the program. "She was the most efficient person I ever knew," Spannuth told Swimming World magazine. "She was able to take our ideas and turn them into a program with policies, procedures and rules to follow."
- Krauser also decided to start training again and compete in meets, but insisted on taking a year to prepare so that she could regain her elite form. She first entered a meet in 1972, at age 46, and that year she set records in the 45-49 age group for the 200- and 500-meter freestyle, the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke and the 50-meter butterfly.
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- In 2000, she had perhaps her finest year as a swimmer, setting 13 world records in the 70-74 age group. The following year, when she competed in the 75-79 group, she accomplished perhaps her most impressive feat: breaking 8 minutes in the 400-meter individual medley. Prior to that, no swimmer her age had ever even broken 4 minutes in the 200-meter individual medley.
- When Spannuth went to work for Sargent Shriver in developing the Special Olympics, he enlisted Krauser to help write the rules for the swimming portion of that competition as well.
- In 1994, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
- For years, Krauser swam 2.5 miles a day at a pool in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she was known for her aversion to sharing her lane.
Photo: International Swimming Hall of Fame
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