Swimmer Spotlight: Francie Haffner 6

Francie Haffner

Francie Haffner

Age: 50
Workout Team: Stafford Hills Club
Occupation: Swim Coach/Instructor and Family Programming Manager at Stafford Hills Club


I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, with my mom, dad, older brother Bill, and younger sister Judi.  My mom always tells the story about how she threw us in the pool when we were two-years-old because there were pools everywhere and she didn’t want us to drown!

I joined my first swim team when I was five, along with my brother and sister.  My mom and dad were on deck at every swim meet as a stroke & turn judge, a timer or running the snack bar.  It was a family affair nearly every weekend throughout my childhood.  We travelled near and far to swim and have fun with all of our best friends.  We were pretty successful as a swimming family, and brought home plenty of medals and trophies.  The funny thing is, however, if you asked my mom what my best time was in an event, she had no clue.  She just knew we were winning, and having the time of our lives.  My dad knew our times, but too, really just wanted to make sure we were having a good time.  Don’t get me wrong, as kids we were just as competitive as the next guy (maybe a little more at times).  It is just so great to remember that we were the competitive ones, not our parents!

I had fun swimming through high school, earning All American honors all four years as well as being a four-time State champion in the 100 and 200 free.  One great memory was breaking the National record with my club teammates in the 200 medley relay (13-14 age group), only to be disqualified because of a false start.  My teammate was changing age groups in two weeks so we had to find a meet fast!  We drove up to Phoenix and broke the record (again).  Phew!  You’ve never seen four young swimmers so relieved.

I qualified for the 1984 Olympic Trials where I had no expectations to do anything except watch my teammates kick butt; which they did!  When I think back on it, I really didn’t realize how cool it was to be a part of that as a junior in high school.  I earned a swimming scholarship to University of Arizona, following my brother, Bill, there.  And, yes, my sister, Judi, joined us as well.  I swam for Dick Jochums and Frank Busch while there, and earned All American honors.  I was PAC 10 Champion in the 200 free and an NCAA finalist in the 200 free a couple of times.  I was the National Champion in the 200 free in 1987 and a finalist in the 200 free at the 1988 Olympic Trials.  I was fortunate to travel around the world on the USA National Swim Team throughout my college career.  Again, working hard, but mostly having fun with the best of friends.

I moved to the Portland area with my husband, Scott, where I taught Preschool, Kindergarten, and soon became the Director and Administrator for all five Northwest Montessori Schools.  This career lasted 25 years.  I tried to swim a few times at local indoor pools, but could never stick with it.  I suppose growing up with outdoor pools in Arizona spoiled me.  In January, 2016, we closed our last Montessori school, and suddenly I was 49 and “retired”.  What was I going to do?

Well, I found an outdoor pool (Stafford Hills Club) five minutes away from my house!  I decided I would figure out my new life while swimming . . .slowly swimming.  So, while there, minding my own business swimming . . .  slowly, this guy (Mike Self) tells me I should join the Master’s team.  Ha-ha, I laughed … I’m way too slow and haven’t swum in 26 years!  Well, after a few weeks, I gave it a try, and the next thing I knew they wanted me to swim in a meet – the State Association Meet in three months!  What?  I have not been swimming in 26 years!  Do I have to dive off a block?  Well, long story short, I did it, and had a blast!  I’m hooked!  Get me back in the pool!  I am so fortunate that it was the year that Oregon was holding Long Course Nationals.  I love long course!  (I never had good flip turns, and I still don’t!)  I trained hard with my new teammates and we swam pretty fast at the meet.  But mostly, I had a great time!  I loved competing and couldn’t wait for the next meet!

In the meantime, I need to work again, right?  I am fortunate enough to teach swim lessons, coach the age group team, the Master’s team and recently, became the manager of Stafford Hills Club’s family programming.  I am so lucky to swim and work at the SHC!

I live in Tualatin with my husband, Scott, who is my number one fan, my number one coach, and supports me and my crazy swimming ethics!  I couldn’t do it without him. I am proud to be a part of Oregon Masters Swimming, and hope to keep improving my times, but mostly, have a good time with my new best friends!

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