Larry Krauser has been swimming competitively for more than half a century, and the seven medals he brought home from last month’s world championships are just the latest in his illustrious swimming career.
He has competed in almost every World Masters Championships since 1994 and won first place in both the 200 meter and 100 meter freestyle events at the 2019 competition in Gwangju, South Korea.
Krauser placed second in the 50-meter and 800-meter freestyle and fourth in the 200-meter backstroke. He was also on the third-place water polo team.
“I think my favorite swim at this worlds was the 100 freestyle,” Krauser said. “I won that by three one-hundredths of a second.”
Krauser attributes the win to his technique.
“The way you’re supposed to finish is to extend out and rotate your shoulders,” Krauser said. “I did – he didn’t. That was it.”
Krauser started swimming when he was 2 years old and living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His mother, June Krauser, was a world-renowned swimmer in the 1940s.
“Because my mom was a competitive swimmer, she pushed us into that,” Krauser said.
He started swimming competitively at age 5. By the time he was in high school, he was an all-American in both swimming and water polo.
The extremely competitive team he was on in Florida was led by an Olympic coach, and the experience taught Krauser a lot of life lessons.
“The thing that sports brings to kids is learning discipline and dedication,” he said. “Discipline in that you have to structure yourself so you get your homework done, get your workout in. I think that’s been very beneficial to my professional life, my life in general.”
As he finished up his high school swimming career, Krauser evaluated his next steps.
“At that time, I wasn’t fast enough to make the Olympics,” Krauser said.
So he headed off to his parents’ alma mater, Purdue University, on a full-ride swimming scholarship.
He swam and played on the university’s water polo team and coached his junior and senior years. After graduation he headed back to Florida, where he coached a women’s water polo team to nationals.
But Krauser didn’t just coach – he kept competing.
Following in his mother’s footsteps once again, Krauser began swimming in U.S. Masters Swimming competitions.
Masters swimming is a membership organization with recognized clubs across the nation for individuals 18 and older that hold regular workouts and swim meets. Those with the fastest times can qualify for national and international competition.
June Krauser is widely considered the “mother of U.S. Masters Swimming,” as noted in her obituary in the New York Times. She wrote the rulebook for the organization in the late 1970s as one of the three founders. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1994.
“They were interested to know whether competition as you got older was detrimental or not,” Krauser said.
When Krauser himself got older, heading to Masters competitions was the logical next step.
“I’ve been involved since my mom really instigated the whole thing and wrote a lot of the rules,” he said of Masters.
Krauser started racking up fast times and in 2003 set the FINA world record for the 100-meter freestyle in the 50-54 age category.
Two more world records followed, one in 2006 for the 200-meter freestyle relay and another in 2013 for the 200-meter freestyle in the 60-64 age category.
He swam in almost every World Masters Championships during the past two decades, placing in at least the top 10 every year, if not taking home a gold metal.
Life got busy with Krauser’s career in developing post-tensioning technologies, a technique to reinforce concrete. Krauser, his wife Sheryl and their three children moved to Spokane in 1995. In 2006, he started working at General Technolgies Inc. and is now the executive vice president.
Even with that busy schedule, raising kids, and traveling for business, Krauser stayed passionate about his time in the pool.
“A lot of people in swimming get burned out and they don’t keep going with it,” Krauser said. “I never got burned out with swimming.”
Krauser fits swimming into his daily life on lunch breaks, and tries to swim when he travels for work.
“My wife allows me to go to all these competitions and I appreciate all that,” Krauser said.
His wife of 44 years, Sheryl, travels to competitions with him, and on Sundays they swim together.
In the summer, most of the Spokane swimming community heads to Witter Aquatic Center, he said.
There, you can find Krauser putting workouts on the board and talking with other swimmers.
With swimming being a “major part” of his life, Krauser is a part of swimming communities all over the world.
“It’s allowed me to meet many people,” he said. “I have international friends that I see every two years at these world championships. I have people around the U.S. that I see at nationals and things like that, so it brings in friendships.”
Krauser doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
“I’m fortunate that I’m healthy and I think the swimming helps that,” he said. “You know, if I don’t do it, I miss it.”
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