Article image

by Daniel Paulling

April 14, 2022

The Sarasota Sharks Masters members have been volunteering for more than 60 years

Jim Matysek received a complex volunteer assignment in 1996: Build U.S. Masters Swimming’s website. Although he had a background in computer programming, he didn’t know the HTML coding used to build websites, so he taught himself and produced one in a few months despite working full-time in software development.

Anna Lea Matysek started her USMS volunteerism a few years before Jim Matysek when she became the Missouri Valley Masters registrar and treasurer in 1989. She then served on the Finance Committee for 16 years, the Registration Committee for 11, and countless other committees and task forces.

The Matyseks’ long-time stellar volunteerism led to their receiving the 2022 Capt. Ransom J. Arthur M.D. Award, USMS’s most prestigious volunteer award, which is given annually to a person who has done the most to further the objectives of USMS.

“It’s kind of funny to me that—I consider myself to be a nonathlete—I’m winning this top award from a swimming organization,” says Anna Lea Matysek, who has been part of 14 USMS Top 10 relays and Jim Matysek’s wife. “I think everyone over the years, when somebody’s name would come up and they would say, ‘Oh, they won the Ransom Arthur Award,’ there was just this prestige about it. ‘Wow, that person is really accomplished.’ To now say that I won that award, I still don’t fully believe it. It’s a huge honor.”

The Sarasota Sharks Masters members have combined for more than 60 years of volunteerism between them. Jim Matysek also worked in the National Office’s IT department from 2002–2017 after working as a contractor and Anna Lea Matysek worked in the membership services department from 2009–2017.

Jim Matysek’s first work as a USMS volunteer came recording records at the 1994 Long Course Meters Nationals, and he began serving as the Niagara LMSC’s Top 10 chair shortly thereafter. He’d have to collect times from meets in his LMSC and place that data onto floppy disks he mailed to the person coordinating Top 10 times nationally. His supply for floppy disks were mailed giveaways from AOL.

In 1999, he created the world’s first online entry and payment system for swim meets, and earned the National Championship Service Award and a Dorothy Donnelly Service Award. He was also honored in 2000 with a dedication in the USMS Rule Book.

Anna Lea Matysek’s volunteerism has been recognized extensively as well. She received a Dorothy Donnelly Service Award in 2004 and received a USMS Rule Book dedication in 2018. Anna Lea Matysek, who served on USMS’s Board of Directors from 2005–2008, currently serves on the History and Archives Committee. She recently updated the online swimmer profiles for all members who served on national committees from 1989–2019, which required more than 3,000 data-entry transactions.

The Matyseks, who met at the annual meeting in 1996 and are the sixth husband-and-wife duo to receive the award at the same time, learned they were receiving the Ransom Arthur Award during a Florida LMSC call—the two are co-Top 10 chairs—shortly before they were planning to leave to go to swim practice, an honor that surprised them.

“We told the previous recipients (on a Zoom call) that we appreciate all their help over the years,” Jim Matysek says. “We saw them as role models, people who really contributed a lot to the organization. We wanted to do as much as we could to be like them. It’s kind of odd to me that just sitting behind my keyboard all these years that I’d end up getting an award like this.”


Categories:

  • About USMS

Tags:

  • Volunteers
  • Awards