Two titans of the sport swim on
When I was asked to write a brief remembrance of June Krauser and Paul Hutinger—two pillars of the early days of U.S. Masters Swimming who dedicated so much time and energy to building the organization into what it is today—my first inclination was to panic. How on earth could I eulogize two people I had never met? And what could I possibly say that would do their vast legacies justice?
I pondered, did a few interviews, and collected comments from people who knew these two accomplished swimmers well. And it soon became abundantly clear that despite having never met either Krauser or Hutinger in person, I did, in fact, know these two people.
See, as an active Masters swimmer for the past eight years, I’ve been a beneficiary of their tireless efforts to create something meaningful and lasting in the world of aquatics.
Dubbed the “Mother of U.S. Masters Swimming,” June Krauser literally wrote the book on adult swimming when she authored the organization’s first rulebook in 1971. She also served as the Rules Committee Chair for 23 years. Longtime volunteer Michael Heather says that despite these deep contributions on the legislative side, Krauser’s “most valuable contribution was not rules, legislation, or international relations, although all of those were considerable. It was Swim Master. That little mimeographed compilation of results is the single item that kept Masters swimming relevant through the early years and allowed us to grow into what we are today.” Swim Master was the first newsletter of U.S. Masters Swimming and it eventually evolved into the glossy SWIMMER magazine, one of our most cherished member benefits.
Communication was also an important aspect of Hutinger’s contributions to U.S. Masters Swimming. As a swimming coach and exercise kinesiologist who taught at Western Illinois University, he understood the human body and physics of swimming and he shared that knowledge in dozens of physiology columns printed in Swim Master and later in the Lane 4 newsletter, the “Journal of Master Swimming,” and the “Maverick Lane Lines” newsletter he wrote for his club team with his wife, Margie. Both Hutinger and Krauser were awarded the Ransom J. Arthur Award—U.S. Masters Swimming’s highest honor—for their pioneering and ongoing contributions to the development of the sport.
In short, both Krauser and Hutinger ARE USMS, and as a USMS member and National Office staff member, I feel I do know them. Or at the very least the ideal they worked so hard for—that every adult should have the ability and the opportunity to swim.
Many others within USMS who knew both Krauser and Hutinger well were kind enough to share their thoughts on the passing of these two swimming champions and champions of Masters Swimming.
USMS Board Member Tom Boak remembers Krauser fondly as a leader. “Without leaders like her, we would never have become who we are today. June Krauser was one of the real treasures in USMS and definitely deserves the title ‘Mother of U.S. Masters Swimming.’ It is truly sad to see one of these icons leave us.”
John Spannuth, who was the executive director of the AAU when USMS was first getting off the ground and subsequently became the international director of the Special Olympics, worked closely with Krauser as she wrote the first rule book codifying the world of adult swimming. He admired Krauser’s organizational skills and talents in taking the arcane specifics of rules and distilling them down into a useable manual. He relied on her not only in helping to move USMS into the mainstream, but also tapped her to help him build the Special Olympics. “I love working with good leaders and she stuck out like a sore thumb because she was such a fabulous leader,” Spannuth says.
Though both Hutinger and Krauser made significant leadership and educational contributions outside of the pool, they were also swimmers who competed and enjoyed the fruits of their organizational efforts.
Margie Hutinger, Paul’s wife of 21 years, remembers her husband with admiration for his dedication to swimming. The pair were married poolside after a Sunday morning workout by Judge Bob Beach. All three wore bathing suits for the affair, showing just how central to their lives swimming was and still is. So important is swimming that it constituted one of Margie’s last conversations with her dying husband. “The very last thing I told him that last night was, ‘I love you very much. I’m going to the pool in the morning.’ And I did. And I’ve kept up my regular schedule ever since,” she says through tears. The swimming is helping her cope with the loss of her husband, and she finds solace among her teammates who became a family for her and her husband. “It was a beautiful partnership and we had a great run,” she says.
It’s always sad when someone leaves this world to swim in the next, but when one leaves behind as rich a legacy as both Paul Hutinger and June Krauser have, the goodbye isn't truly final, as they both live on in the dynamic, thriving organization that is USMS today.
- Human Interest