Katherine Pelton (USA)
2006 Honor Swimmer
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 757, Pre-1986 Points – 295, Total Points – 1052; Since 1977, she has competed in four age groups (70-74 thru 85-89); 34 FINAMASTERSWORLD RECORDS.
She taught herself how to swim in Southwest Africa where her father was a missionary. Because there were sharks in the water, she thought that she should be accurate in her private lessons so she carefully read a book to learn how to swim correctly.
She shared her love for swimming with her son inspiring him to become a swim coach. In 1974, it was her son who encouraged Katherine Pelton to join masters swimming. Aftermuch persuasion she finally agreed and in her first masters competition, which just happened to be a world championship, she swam the 200-meter fly and broke the world record. After that she entered as many events as they would allow at most every competition.
Throughout her masters' career, she competed in four different age groups beginning with 70-74. From 1986 until her death in 1992, she set 34 FINA Masters World Records – 18 long course meters and 16 short course meters in freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke and individual medley events.
Katherine was always an independent, self-sufficient woman. She taught second grade and was healthy and so full of spunk that the school district allowed her to teach well beyond 65 years old. She never allowed anyone to watch her compete and has very few photos of her triumphant swims. She swam for herself and insisted on her daily practices of over 4000 meters. Once, at 82 while driving the 30-mile trip to Rio Hondo College where she practiced, she hit a deer, which scared her terribly but the next day, she made the drive again. Katherine inspired those around her. At her funeral the age group kids of 6, 7 and 8 years old,who swam with her, stood and spoke of how Katherine inspired them. She loved to swim and the camaraderie of Masters competitions.