Jurgen Schmidt (USA)
2018 Honor Masters Swimmer
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points-638, Pre-1986 Points-52, Total Points-690; Since 1973, Jurgen has been ranked in the top 10 for 43 years and he has competed in nine age groups (50-54 through 90-94). 2 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS. 1999 & 2008 SPMA Swimmer of the Year; 2004 Santa Barbara Master Athlete of the Year. 2015 induction into the Huntsman World Senior Games Hall of Fame, St. George, Utah; 6x All Star (three different age groups)
Jurgen Schmidt was a lifeguard at his high school pool, but never gave swimming competitively a thought. Then in 1941, he wanted to be a lifeguard instructor, so he signed up for a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor course. In the class was 1936 Olympic gold medalist and ISHOF Honoree, Adolph Kiefer. While serving as a naval officer during the Korean War, he participated in and won various fleet competitions and for the following twenty years he swam at the YMCA to keep fit.
In August of 1973, Jurgen Schmidt read an article in the Chicago Tribune about an upcoming National Long Course Masters Meet at the Chicago Circle Campus of the University of Illinois. Inspired, he joined the Ryall Masters Team. He would get up at 4:00am Monday through Friday, drive from his home in Arlington Heights to Wheaton, Illinois for the 6:00am -7:00am workout and then drive to his job in Hillside. It was quite a commitment.
Schmidt placed in the top five in the 50-54 age group and swam against Doc Counsilman in the 1500m freestyle. He was hooked. So hooked in fact, that he helped Paul Huntinger, Bobbi Turcotte and Frank Havlicek form Illinois Masters Swimming.
He says his biggest thrill in Masters Swimming, was his break-through meet at the USMS Long Course Nationals in 1978, where he won four gold medals. He had been training hard for five years.
In 1989 he moved to Lompoc, California to take care of his parents who were in their 90’s. During those years he never stopped competing and started working out with IMSHOF Honoree, Frank Piemme. They attended local meets as well as Nationals Championships.
In 2013 Schmidt was a member of five, 360 plus year-old relays, that set FINA Masters Long Course World Records and in 2015, he was featured in Speedo’s “Fueled by Water” advertising campaign.
Masters Swimming has been Schmidt’s life saver. The camaraderie and many lifelong friends that he has made during his 43 years in Masters Swimming are things he will never forget. With the help of his fitness routine he continues to be a complete, healthy, happy person. His attitude, compassion, and desire to swim another day has made it possible to lovingly care for his wife 24/7, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.