|Mavericks of the Month - 2006
The following swimmers were selected as "Mavericks of the Month"
in 2006. Our first edition of "Maverick of the Month" was
in 1998, and 2006 marked the ninth year for this popular newsletter
Margaret Homans, 73, was born in her grandfather's office, in Augusta, ME, in 1932. At age 8, she learned to swim at the YMCA. The next summer she attended a girls' camp, progressing through the swimming ranks. She loved diving; hated kicking; but the staff required both. She graduated to junior counselor and, eventually became the waterfront director. During those years, there was no competitive swimming in Maine.
Homans' college years were a "wonderful time in my life." She started at Sargent College in Harvard Square and transferred to the U of Maine, where she met Harry, "the love of my life." Homans taught Phys Ed, had two children and went back to school for her Masters degree. She taught PE at all age levels, and especially enjoyed individual sports at the Bangor campus at the U of ME.
Her first Masters competition was in San Diego in the late 1980's. This was her first realization that Masters attracted some famous swimmers, including Bill Early (elite swimmer) and Tom Lane, who "never beat anyone, just out lived them." When you're competing at 100+, you can say that.
When her children were teenagers, she made a huge career change and found her calling as a realtor. They retired and moved to Florida. She joined the Mavericks in 2000, as they "needed to be with a friendly, aggressive team."
Homans' outstanding swim achievements revolve around making USMS and World Top Ten. She never had a coach, but the corrections and suggestions she received were an asset. Her major accomplishment lies in her ability to overcome all her serious injuries, and "never, ever giving up." Swimming played a major role in each recovery.
Homans winters in Sun City Center, FL with her husband, Harrison. They spend summers in Northport, ME, where they love having their two children
and four grandchildren near them.
Jean Allen, 66, was born, raised, married and started her family in Keokuk, Iowa. This is the only Keokuk in the world, located at the junction of the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers in the southeast corner of Iowa.
She learned to swim while in the 5th grade, at the only pool in town, a 17-yarder at the YMCA. During these lessons, she met her future husband, Jim, the Instructor¹s assistant.
When Allen turned 16, the city built a pool complex and she was thrilled to be hired as one of the first guards. They sent her to an Aquatic School in Carbondale, IL, so she could take the Water Safety Instructor's class.
Allen started the first girls' swim team at the Y. Her two sons and daughter swam on an AAU Park Board team and she was one of their assistant coaches.
She worked part-time at a bank, so she would have the summers off and
could spend more time at the pool with her kids. In addition, she worked
for the Jr. College as a swim instructor.
When her children were grown up, Allen had more time to spend at the pool swimming laps. In the 1990's, "Some guy came to the pool looking for people to swim on a Masters team. It sounded like something I'd like to try. My first meet was in 1995 at the Iowa Masters State meet. In Iowa, there were four Masters meets a year. At one meet, the timing system hadn't arrived so the starter banged two blocks of wood together. When we moved to Florida, 1999, I really enjoyed the greater number of meets and the variety of places to compete."
Allen joined the Mavericks in 2002 because Jean Troy said she'd like it. Troy was right.
Her greatest accomplishment this past year was winning her first individual gold medal at Nationals. Her swim coach son shook her hand and said, "I'm impressed, mom!"
Jean and her husband Jim, live in Sun City Center, FL.
James Pitts , 75, was born in Rochester, NY, and lived there through the early 1950's.
In high school, he competed on the swim team and earned his letter, all four years. His best 100 free time was 58.1, which was better than any Rochester College swimmer during that time. Pitts matriculated at the local college, bettered his 100 free time to 53.9 and again, lettered all four years. It seems hard for us to imagine, but during his competitive years, there were no goggles (you saw rainbows at the end of workouts), no lane lines or back stroke flags (looked for the wall), no starting blocks and they swam between the lines on the bottom of the pool, just like track races.
He earned his MA from Harvard in 1954, which prepared him for his career in teaching science at the Ft Jefferson High School. He retired from teaching at Rochester Long Island in 1978 and moved to Niagara. His wife, Betty, was a swimmer, and in 1978 they organized the Empire Masters, and both were active competitors. His is very proud of all the work that his wife did to form one of the earliest Masters teams.
In 1998, they decided to escape from the cold and snowy winters, and moved to Sun City Center. They both competed for SCC Masters, and in 2001, James joined the Mavericks.
Pitts is a snow bird, and spends his summers in New York. He enjoys the competition of the NY State Senior Games, limited to only NY residents. He is undefeated in these meets. Last year, he aged up to 75, and had six outstanding USMS Top Ten times in SCM, and three in LCM.
In the fall of 2005, Pitts was one of the instructors in the successful adult swim lesson program at Sun City Center.
When asked about his swim goals, he replied, "I swim for efficiency and health."
Pitts' wife died four years ago. James still maintains two residences; Sun City Center, FL, in the winters and Penfield, NY during the summers.
Gaylord Hopkins, 65, was born in Philadelphia, PA. He learned to swim at age seven and first competed at age eight. He swam for three former Olympians, Medica, Freeman-Kelly and Higgins, plus legendary Doc Consilman.
He captained his HS swim team and graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1963, with a win in the 1650 Free at the E Intercollegiate Swim Championships. Hopkins retired from swimming for 25 yrs. Hopkins was a Navy pilot for seven years, and a reserve for three years. He worked with his dad at his Ford Dealership outside of Philly, until his dad¹s death. Hopkins then moved to Jacksonville, FL, and worked for S Bell Telephone Co. He joined Siemens Communications in 1985, and has been there ever since.
He recalls his unusual training swims during his early teen years. His family spent summers on a lake, .5 mile long and .25 mile wide. At 5 AM, M-F, his mom tied his younger sister and himself to their own canoe. His mom sat in his canoe, along with a heavy cinder block. They raced around the lake. Whoever won, got the cinder block for the next race. Mom always sat with son.
In 1985, Hopkins was horribly overweight, with many medical problems. His doctor said he'd be dead in 10 years if he didn't change his lifestyle. His mom was a Masters swimmers, and he joined in 1987. He won his first race and was "hooked." Hopkins enjoyed the St Pete meets and swimming with his mom. The last year, he counted for her 1650. On her last open turn, he leaned over and yelled "sprint!" Two ladies remarked, "That's terrible; she's tired! Why would you yell sprint." He calmly replied, "Revenge!" His mom heard him yell, and loved it. She died later that year, so it was an even more special moment. He competed for six years, then backed off due to his work schedule. In 2002, he swam at a Sr Games meet, his first competition in nine years.
P Homans, recruited him for the Mavericks. He has multi All American and Top Ten rankings and has swum on three Nation Record maverick relays. His ultimate goal is to "just keep on swimming." Hopkins' greatest accomplishment is his 42 years of marriage to wife, Barbara, a saint for "putting up with me all these years." They live in Lakeland, FL.
Richard Criche, 67, was born in Joliet, Illinois. His first swimming lessons at age six, were a part of the Joliet Park District Program. He started competing at age 15, and only in AAU meets in Illinois, as his high school had no team, no pool and nowhere else to compete. He graduated from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, and did compete on their swim team.
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The greatest achievement in Criche's lifetime has been his service in the United States Marine Corps, from 1961 to 1973. He had no favorite base, as all of them provided pleasant memories. Criche considers his most interesting experiences his travels to visit historic World War II Pacific battle sites, including Siapan, Tinian, Guam, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Guadacanal, at various times during 1967 and 1968.
Criche has been a Maverick since 1999. He felt that our program fit his needs. "I could swim as much or as little as I wanted, for fitness or for competition." He regularly competes in Masters and Senior meets and has received several USMS Top Ten rankings with his relay teammates.
He is most proud of his efforts to teach and develop young swimmers and to watch their achievements after they have gone on to more advanced programs. Two of his swimmers qualified for the YMCA Jr Nationals. Many more developed into high school and college swimmers. He is disappointed that he lost touch with them after the years he spent in the military.
One of his goals is to complete the 3000 & 6000 yds and the 5K &10K postal events in the same year. A noble goal! In 2006, he swam the 3000 and 6000 yds, as he has several other years. Another goal is to have no operations for one whole year.
Criche was the Mavericks 2005 Elmer Luke Award winner, as a survivor who overcame Type II diabetes, multiple bypass surgeries, "a sudden death heart attack" and sports an AICD (defibrillator) in his chest. In spite of all his adversities, "I continue to swim to maintain my physical fitness."
"I am married to a lovely woman, whom I appreciate more and more as the years go by."