Name: Henry Halff
City and State: San Antonio, TX
Age Group: 65–69
Team Affiliation: Masters of South Texas
Henry swimming the 200 fly at Worlds in 2005
How long have you been swimming in Masters & why did you decide to join?
I have been a Masters swimmer since 1999. I decided to join after doing an hour swim and talking to our coach, Susan Ingraham about the club.
What kind of swimming background do you have? None at all, Age group, High School, College, International Competition, the Olympics?
I was a runner for almost 20 years until a biking accident sidelined me. During that time, I swam laps to keep from running too much. I never swam competitively until I joined Masters.
Where do you swim and how often? Do you compete? If you do compete what are your favorite events to swim?
Our team has three workout locations. My main workout group practices at the Josh Davis Natatorium (named for our local Olympic champion) in the Virgil T. Blossom Athletic Center in San Antonio. I occasionally join a group that works out at the Jewish Community Center here in town. Both pools are SCM. We also practice in an LCM pool at Blossom during the Summer.
I try to make four workouts per week, and every meet that I can. I usually show up at Zone Championships and at local and state Senior Games. I make it to Nationals when I can. My favorite events are distance freestyle and butterfly.
How does Swimming help you with your lifestyle (health, relationships, etc.)?
Swimming helps in many ways, but mainly, a workout affords me the opportunity, for one hour, to shed all of my worldly concerns and focus entirely on what I am doing at the moment.
What do you do for a living out of the pool?
I am semi retired and self employed. When working, I do research on instructional uses of computers.
What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a masters swimmer?
If I run into a swimmer we ask each other about favorite strokes and events. Other people tell me that swimming is very good exercise, to which I reply that I’m in it for the fun. One woman told me that she found swimming to be a very relaxing activity. I replied, “You’ve never worked out with our team.”
How about swimming advocacy? Have you helped run or start a team? Are you involved with your LMSC? Do you have a blog or swimming website you’d like to share?
I am the webmaster for our club’s site (and am currently way behind on updates). Naturally, I give out the URL to anyone I met who has the vaguest interest in swimming.
Anything else that you want to share? Have a great swimming story? Are you a record holder in your age group? Swimming tips?
I can’t say enough good things about our club. The coach, Susan Ingraham, is the 2007 USMS coach of the year. She has brought the team from a handful of swimmers to something like 140 members from all over South and Central Texas. We all have a strong sense of striving and have a great time in the pool. We’re always competitive in pool competitions; we have strong showings in every postal event, and we can show up in force in some open-water swims.
I own most of the team records in my age group, mainly due to the sparsity of men in my age group. I have no national or zone records, but I was top 10 in 2007 in the 200 fly and 1500 free (both LC). I’ve also got a few patches for long-distance postal events.
Here are two swimming stories.
During relays at a zone championship, one of our team members wandered off just before our start. I swam the first leg of the race (a 200 yd freestyle), and then got back up on the block to swim the third leg for our missing member. No one noticed. When we told our coach, she said, “I didn’t hear that!” As far as I know our time still stands.
At a LC zone championships in Houston, our team and the local team were fairly close in points toward the end of the meet, but were definitely behind. A bunch of the locals, figuring that they had the meet in the bag, decided to skip the last event, a 1500 free. We fielded a bunch of swimmers for that event and took first place by 30 points—victory by showing up.
Tips? It seems to me that everyone swims differently. To find your best way, listen to every good swimmer and coach that will give you advice, look at every video that you can lay your hands on, time yourself with different stroke techniques, and work out the one that is best for you.
**A big thank you to Henry for talking about masters swimming with us! Henry introduced me to a cool site for those of you that are like me and have an appreciation for butterfly. Check out the Butternuts, a club for those that have gone 500 yards or more of consecutive butterfly. Henry is a member himself at 600m of fly! I’ve added this to my list of goals for 2009. If I manage to do it it’s going on my business cards and popping up completely unprovoked in conversation for pretty much the rest of my life :)