Monday, August 18, 2014

A00144 - June Krauser, Record Setting Senior Swimming Champion


June Krauser at the Swimming Hall of Fame swimming pool in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1999.CreditCindy Karp
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June Krauser, who broke scores of world records while in her 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s in a sport she helped found — she was known as “the mother ofmasters swimming”— died on Aug. 2 in Pompano Beach, Fla. She was 88.
The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, said her daughter, Janice Krauser-Keeley.
Ms. Krauser won national titles in her teens and in her 70s — and some of her race times in her 60s were better than those from when she was an Indiana schoolgirl champion in the 1940s. Well into her 80s, she trained at a pool in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she had lived for more than 50 years. It happened to be part of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, where she was inducted in 1994. She swam two and a half miles a day — lap after lap, year after year — and it was best not to interrupt her.
“She did not like to share her lane,” her daughter said.
Between her success as a youth and her middle-aged resurgence, Ms. Krauser raised two children and helped run her family’s steel tubing business. She watched her children swim in meets, and over time she became active on committees overseeing youth swimming for the Amateur Athletic Union. She quickly developed a reputation as a strong-willed and exacting administrator and rules adviser. In 1964, she became a member of the United States Olympic Women’s Swim Committee.
She was involved with what is now known as U.S. Masters Swimming from its beginnings — but from outside the pool. In the early ’70s she was asked to help organize and write rules for a new competitive adult league conceived by a Navy physician, Capt. Ransom J. Arthur, who wanted to encourage swimming as a way to stay physically fit for life. Ms. Krauser quickly agreed to help on the administrative side but did not participate in the first national meets.
“She said she had to work out for a year before she would go,” her daughter said, “so she’d know she wouldn’t embarrass herself.”
She first competed as an adult in 1972, and she did not embarrass herself. That year she set records for her age group, 45 to 49, in the 200- and 500-meter freestyle, the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke and the 50-meter butterfly.
And so it went for the next four decades. She competed in national meets consistently into the 21st century. She set records in every stroke but back — 154 records in all, the last in 2002.
Records are frequently broken in masters swimming, particularly as competitors move up to older age groups. Ms. Krauser won many in her first years in an age group, but she also set some when she was among the older swimmers in a group. In 2001, the year she turned 75, she won several national races in the 70-to-74 group.
She was born June Fogle on June 13, 1926, in Indianapolis. Her parents, Robert Fogle and the former Florence Piepgras, were from Chicago, and she learned to swim in Lake Michigan. Her mother was a competitive swimmer and basketball player and won medals as a roller skater in high school. June and her sister, Cynthia, won national A.A.U. events in the 1940s — Cynthia won more — and they were both considered likely to compete in the 1944 Olympics until the Games were canceled because of World War II.
Ms. Krauser swam for two years for Purdue University, where she graduated with a major in home economics, before moving on to other things, including starting a family. In addition to her daughter, who has also competed in masters swimming, her survivors include a son, Larry, who swam for Purdue and has won several national races as a masters swimmer; three grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters. Her husband, Jack, died in 2000.
Ms. Krauser worked early on in masters swimming with another of its founders, John Spannuth, a top A.A.U. swimming coach. Mr. Spannuth also helped start the Special Olympics, and he enlisted Ms. Krauser to draft its rules and procedures when it was taking shape in the late ’60s.
Masters swimming grew rapidly from a few dozen participants at the national level in the early 1970s. More than 60,000 people now compete in the United States, and many more around the world. Ms. Krauser was also active in the Fédération Internationale de Natation, the group that oversees masters swimming internationally.
For two decades she edited a newsletter, Swim Master, and in the late 1990s she helped United States Masters Swimming develop its website. The desk work never kept her out of the pool.
Speaking of her swimming to The New York Times in 1999, with a few record-breaking years still ahead of her, she said, “It’s more interesting than playing golf with the old ladies.”

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