Oregon Masters member Bob Bruce has received this year’s Captain Ransom J. Arthur M.D. Award, U.S. Masters Swimming’s most prestigious award for volunteers.
“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.”
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 Coaches Chair in 1998.
The initiatives he led included providing clinics, a coach on deck at all Oregon LMSC meets, and a coach on deck at USMS 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, meaning he’s one of very few members who have received USMSs 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.
On the USMS Long Distance and Open Water Committees, 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.
Bob 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.
His extensive local- and national-level volunteerism led to his receiving the Capt. Ransom J. Arthur M.D. Award, which is presented annually to a volunteer who has done the most to further the objectives of Masters Swimming. He learned he was receiving the award during an Oregon LMSC call on Monday night. He will also be honored on June 26 at the USMS 2-Mile Cable Open Water National Championship, an event for which he’s the event director.
“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.”