UTAH MASTERS HISTORY
Intermountain Masters Association
By Horace Knowlton
In February of 1974, Dr. Horace S. Knowlton hosted Dr. Michael Delainey from the University of Southern California for a dental seminar. Dr. Delainey, a former Michigan swimmer, informed Horace Knowlton of his participation in the National Masters Swimming Championships, and how exciting it was to swim with his former competitors. They, Knowlton and Delainey, made an agreement to swim in Santa Clara, California in the National Long Course Championships that August. While working out at Granger High swimming pool, Knowlton talked to the swimming director at the Deseret Gym. The Deseret Gym sponsored the first Masters Swimming meet that fall in Utah. It was in the format of a relay meet with trophies awarded to the winning swimmers.
In addition to local meets, there were meets that involved traveling to Twin Falls, Idaho in 1974, 1975, and 1976. These meets were attended primarily by the high school swimming coaches. Mel Roberts of Tooele and John Shackelford of Granger took their swimmers and Horace Knowlton joined them.
The high school swimming coaches were; therefore, willing to host masters swimming meets at their schools. They acted as meet directors. Mel Roberts at Tooele, John Shackelford at Granger, Clair Sorenson at Cottonwood, Tom Eiche at Skyline, and Russell Lauder at Cottonwood Heights gave opportunities for Masters Swimming meets without any expense to the Masters Swimmers.
In 1975, meets were held in the high school venues with awards given for a novice class, swimmers without any competitive experience, and competitive classes 25 to 29, 30 to 34, and 35 and above. The meets were friendly and seemed to attract a fair number of swimmers. From 1974 to 1977, Horace S. Knowlton acted somewhat as chairman arranging the venues, averaging seven meets a year. At the events, Jim Brownell helped in printing the announcements and publishing the results. Cecil Birch and his wife assisted at poolside taking entries and seeding them.
In May of 1977, after the Tooele meet, Horace Knowlton and Jim Brownell met with Dr. John Legler who agreed to be the next chairman for the Masters Swimming. It was decided that John Legler would arrange for the pools and Horace Knowlton would arrange for the awards. Dr. Legler added the University of Utah swimming pool to the agenda. He also contacted the national organization for a more formal relationship. In 1979, the novice category was dropped and the 20 to 24 age group was added. Also, the 35 and above was changed to the five year age group categories. An open event was added for any age with awards given for the first three finishers. The December meet at Skyline in 1979 had swimmers from the University of Utah, YMCA and Cottonwood Heights with 10 women and 43 men for a total of 53 participants. This format of seven to eight local meets at the high schools and the University of Utah continued until 1983.
In 1982, Dr. Legler passed the chairmanship to Dr. Glen Mortenson. Dr. Mortenson compiled state records and expanded the venues to Ogden and Logan. He also established a state championship meet with a team trophy based on a point system. In 1986, the state meet in April was split between Granger and Logan, with Salt Lake City earning the award. In 1987, Logan received it and in 1988, Tooele won the award.
Our first long course meet was held at Bountiful in 1982, at Cottonwood Heights in 1983, and again at Bountiful in 1984. It was held yet again at Cottonwood Heights in 1985 and at the Alta Pool in 1986. In 1986, there were 115 swimmers who swam in our meet for that year. In 1986, Jim Harris was made chairman and the number of swimmers expanded to 150. In 1988, Carol Morgan assumed the responsibility of chair. In 1987, the Senior World Games, which became the Huntsman World Games, added swimming for those over 50 years of age. Since then, they have held their meet every year in October. In 1987, the National Senior Olympics were also established, but Utah didn’t participate until 1995, when the Huntsman World Games became a qualifying venue for the National Senior Games. In 1988, the Utah Summer Games in Cedar City added masters swimming to their events.
With the construction of the Steiner Pool located near the University of Utah in 1989, Utah Masters somewhat centralized workouts, meets, and other Utah Masters Swimming events to this locale. About 80 UMS swimmers now workout at the Steiner Pool. The overall statewide membership has now grown to over 300 swimmers today, with 10 official clubs throughout the state.