MISHOF Honoree Maurine Kornfeld Embraces Joy of Swimming at 101 – Still Setting Records
01 May 2023,
Maurine Kornfeld got into swimming because she enjoyed the water.
She joined Masters Swimming in her 60s and is still going strong – four decades later.
Kornfeld, now 101, broke the Masters World Record in the 50 freestyle for the 100-104 age group during the weekend at the 2023 United States Masters Swimming (USMS) Spring Championships in Irvine, California.
Upon setting the record, she had this to say:
“I just love swimming. If it is not fun, why bother?” Kornfeld said.
That was the extent of talking about her own exploits. For years, Kornfeld has broken records, but quietly tried to deflect the attention she receives as she continues to swim well.
“It’s truly amazing,” Rose Bowl Aquatics coach Michael Tulin said. “Every time she gets in the water, she creates a buzz. When the announcers give her the credit she is due. Everyone pays attention and watches. It’s truly amazing. It is always remarkable. Every time she gets in the water, she creates a buzz. When the announcers give her the credit she is due. Everyone pays attention and watches. Having her on our team has been absolutely wonderful. She has done a lot for the spirit of the team.”
After retiring from her career as a social worker, Kornfeld started swimming with the Masters team at the Glendale, California YMCA, where she learned the ropes and some of the vocabulary. She not only took to Masters, but also took all the Red Cross courses for Water Safety Instructor, Advanced Lifesaving and Adapted Aquatics. She made her Masters debut in the 65 – 69 age group, and set her first Masters World Record at the age of 90. She now swims for Rose Bowl Aquatics.
At the 2017 FINA Masters World Championships in Budapest, Kornfeld was the oldest female swimmer at the meet and amazed the city when she set a new World Record in the 95-99 age group in the 800m freestyle.
Kornfeld, who grew up in Great Falls, Montana, was an International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Masters Honoree in 2018.
This week, Kornfeld broke the 100-104 record in the 50 free, getting to the wall in 1:27.45. Kornfeld also went a 3:30.70 in the 100 backstroke to win.
“Obviously we are all inspired. We all want to grow up and be like her,” teammate Cheryl Simmons said. “Everyone wanted a photo with her and I felt like her body guard. It is also a pleasure to spend time with her and see how positive she is. She always deflects the focus off of her. Everyone thinks they are her special friend. She knows everyone and everyone’s kids names and asks about them, makes them feel special. She makes everyone feel like this.”
That caring, soft-spoken kindness is part of her legacy.
“Aside from the physicality of what she can do, mentally, she is so strong and so powerful. She has a great memory and is a joy to be around,” Tulin said. “It is hard to articulate. She is just soft spoken and so gracious about everything she does. She is always fun to be around.”
But don’t be fooled. She is competitive.
“She tries to make it sound like she is there just for fun. She is not just doing it. She is competitive and trying to get better,” Simmons said. “She has that competitive drive. Even at 101 she has questions and looking to get better and stronger. She always wants to improve – like all of us.”