Southern Pacific Masters Association

SPMA Swimmers of the Year for 1998
Rita Simonton

RITA SIMONTON turned 75 on July 13 and began her assault on the record book in her new 80-84 age group. This petite woman gives the Eveready Bunny a run for its money, annihilating all the distance Freestyle events while adding a few Breaststroke events for balance. Rita grew up in New England and swam on local teams during her teen age years. She returned to swimming at age 50 and was named the 1978 Southern California "Outstanding Athlete - Masters swimming." several years later, in 1989, she won four 1st places at her first World Masters Games in Arhus, Denmark. Rita trains 7 hours each week with a local team in Huntington Beach averaging up to 3,000 yards (about 2 miles) per workout. After claiming her awards at meets, Rita enjoys her quiet time at home, gardening, watching mysteries, or simply doing the daily chores, and even hiking in the higher grounds. She is also an avid traveler, having gone to Europe 12 times. She has enrolled in summer classes at Oxford University, attending sessions at Winchester in Roman Britain and at Christ's Church on Medieval England


WALTER PFEIFFER turned 85 on November 5 and proceeded to re-write the record book as he always does when entering a new age group. Walter broke 5 W.R. in a small meet in El Cajon, 3 more at the same pool a month later and 3 more at the Holiday Invitational in December. Under the FINA rule, Walter went after the Long Course Meters records this past summer and broke the 50 and 200 Butterfly W.R. at San Luis Obispo as well as the 200 and 400 I.M. records. He broke the 100 Butterfly record by almost 20 seconds on the Butterfly leg of the 400 I.M. He repeated his assault on the World Records at the LC Regionals at Mission Viejo but due to what he termed "a comedy of errors," none of the records were certified as official. Thus Walter, who normally only competes in the year he ages into a new age group, will be going for the records again during this summer's Long Course Season. Before that, he will most likely add a few Short Course Yards National Records to his portfolio. By way of history, Walter began his swimming career in high school and was the only swimmer on his Tulsa University swimming team. After 30+ years away from the water, he returned to swimming at age 58 when a 40+ division was added to the La Jolla Roughwater swim. He and his wife of 58 years, Annetta ("Tony"), were the first Masters swimming couple and they continue to train together today 3-4 times a week at Mission Viejo, although Annetta resists swimming in competitions. Walter keeps his workouts short (approx. 2000 yards) to avoid shoulder problems or burn-out but continues to train even in those off years when he is not competing.