OMS Members and Friends Remember Ted Haartz

Ted Haartz

Ted Haartz

Ginger Pierson

Not only was he a great volunteer in almost every aspect of swimming for numerous years, but he was a true gentleman, kind, and a source of knowledge wealth.  Everyone would have a kind word to say about Ted.  He was on a committee I chaired and was a valuable resource for me.  I too shall miss him.

Bob Bruce

Ted Haartz was the most fervent booster of Masters swimming ever!  He approached me once at a Masters meet, introduced himself, and–after a nice long chat–encouraged me to return (which I did, obviously).  You might not be surprised to hear that it was at my very first ever Masters meet, at Medford (MA) High School, on April 28, 1973.  The previous month, I had just turned 25, the minimum age in those days.  Man, were we young and good looking–I had more hair and less mass, and Ted’s glasses weren’t quite so thick.  We’ve had a laugh about that day since.  I’ll miss him!

That meet was a two-day ‘Regional Championship” meet (long before the Zones were created), and I met a few other folks that old-timers might remember, such as Enid Urich (she was manning the desk; the first person I met), Jack Geoghegan, and Mike Laux.  I also met Roger Nekton, who became an important water polo coaching mentor.  My training had been sparse due to grad studies, and I didn’t swim very well, but I was sure into networking that weekend, even if I was too dumb to notice!

Sandi Rousseau

He was truly the most avid supporter of Masters swimming that I knew and a truly nice person.

I am so very sorry to hear about Ted’s passing.  He was a true gentleman, kind and considerate, and the most avid supporter of Masters Swimming I knew.  Ted was one of the first delegates to sit down to chat and welcome me to my first US Aquatics Sports convention in 1985.  I will always remember that.  And we never had a convention or nationals where he did not reach out to talk.  My heartfelt sympathies go out to his family.  Our swimming family will grieve and miss him.

Skip Thompson from Michigan

Ted Haartz, what a man, what a volunteer, what a leader, what a swimmer, what an official.  The first time I met Ted was through Michigan Masters teammates at the 1983 Short Course Nationals.  He proceeded to win 4 events and got 2nd in two others, and lost to Charles Moss in the 100 IM by 1/10 of a second.  I believe he set 3 National Records in all 3 breaststroke events.

I was just a rookie in USMS, in my second year at the time, and was very impressed because he was such a gentleman and nice guy and very helpful to all swimmers.  At the time he was the immediate past USMS President, and I learned of his legacy when he was on the BOD and President of Masters Swimming from 1978 to 1982.  I say Masters because in his first 2 years, and in the 6 years previously in the 1970s, Masters swimming was a committee of the AAU Swimming body that governed all of the aquatic sports that USAS governs today with the different aquatic sports disciplines.

One of the most important things that Ted did was in chartering and incorporating USMS as a not-for-profit public corporation at the time Congress broke up the AAU sports monopoly.  Masters swimming was a part of AAU prior to that.  USMS established the 55 Local Masters Swim Committees (LMSC’s), secured tax identification numbers for each, and tax-exempt status from the IRS for USMS and its LMSCs, and secured separate liability, accident, and directors/officers insurance coverage.  It helped that having the 1978 Ted Stevens Act to completely separate all of the Olympic Sports away from the AAU.

What could have happened was that we could have been absorbed by USA Swimming that was forming at the time as the Olympic Aquatic Swimming Body.  Here was a man of great vision and foresight to lead this effort and change the direction of the organization and the direction of the sport of Masters swimming.  After 2 years of organizing from the split, USMS starting growing way faster than what Masters swimming was doing in the 1970s under the AAU.

He imagined an organization that would be self-governing, and volunteers would be in charge of carrying out the operating duties and managing the organization.  That was a risk, because if it did not work, we might not be here today as USMS.  The one thing that comes to mind in this is that the volunteers are customers of the service they are providing, and with that they have the incentive to work hard for the organization, because they will benefit from the fruits of their labor.  With the success of this, under Ted’s leadership, he put Masters swimming on the map for continued success.

I see Ted and June Krauser as taking the great accomplishments that Ransom Arthur and John Spannuth provided, and expanding on that, and providing an organization for future leaders to grow and be successful.  Ted has received numerous awards in his career: the 1976 Ransom Arthur Award, a Presidential Service Award for outstanding service to USAS, 1996 National Championship Meets Award, 2013 induction into the IMSHOF, and in 2009 he was the inaugural recipient of the Staff Appreciation Award named in his honor.  Since 2010, 24 different volunteers have received this award.

Besides serving as President of USMS, he was a member of the BOD from 1972 to 1979 for the AAU Masters Committee and from 1980 to 2020 on the USMS BOD.  In fact the day he passed away was the first day he was not on the BOD.  That is 48 years.  Another incredible feat was that he was the USA Swimming Liaison from 1981 until 2011 as a non-voting member of that board.  That is 31 years.

I have provided a picture of Ted along with Gail Roper that appeared 34 years ago in 1987.  That was the first of two USMS calendars and I used to log all of my workouts on the days of the calendar.  He was chosen with Gail in the 55-59 age-group, and both of these swimmers now and then are a fantastic representation.

Ted’s legacy ranks among the greatest volunteer leaders in USMS history.  He will be remembered for his generosity, leadership, and love of swimming.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time of sorrow and sadness.  I will miss him as a friend, but I will never forget him.

Ted Haartz Calendar 87

USMS Calendar showing Ted Haartz and Gail Roper in 1986. This is one of two USMS Calendars. Ted and Gail were in the 55-59 year-old age group. Their words above their pictures are these: Ted— “As one who works under high-stress conditions, swimming has provided a needed relaxation and getaway from daily pressures.” Ted Haartz, New England Masters, Past President of USMS. Gail—”Masters Swimming has given me the opportunity to continue to compete, stay in shape, and meet competitive challenges.” Gail Roper, Southern California Masters, Olympian and All American Swimmer.

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