Racing Starts - A History of Competitive Swimming in Central Arkansas
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No Beaches Needed

New Book Shows Arkansans Can Swim


Little Rock   -   The accomplishments of hundreds of Arkansas athletes are featured in a new book that documents nine decades of competitive swimming in a most unlikely place, a land-locked Southern state dominated by football and farming. Full of quotes and stories this book is a must have for every one who’s ever been a part of swimming in Central Arkansas from the 1920s on.

 “Racing Starts: A History of Competitive Swimming in Central Arkansas” offers a pictorial and narrative review of athletes, coaches, and swimming families from 1920-2010. Over those years, Arkansas swimmers have had remarkable success, winning two Olympic gold medals, several NCAA and SEC Conference championships, and setting numerous National Age Group records.

 The book tells the story of early swim teams at the Little Rock YMCA, YWCA and Boys Club. It profiles highly influential coaches such as Jimmy Miller, Paul Blair, and Mary Lou Jaworski. And it allows nationally ranked local swimmers, many of whom were the fastest in the nation, to speak candidly of their challenges and accomplishments. 

 The book was written by Marvin Schwartz, a former high school and college swimmer and a national champion Masters swimmer. Schwartz is a professional writer who has previously published six books of Arkansas history. Schwartz said the idea for a book on Arkansas swimming originated with Pat Riley, Sr., a Little Rock businessman who established the Little Rock Racquet Club in 1967.

 “Many people believe that successful Arkansas swimming started at the Racquet Club in the late 1960s,” Schwartz said. “But Arkansas had numerous national age group champions and highly competitive teams much earlier. Local swimmers and divers in the 1940s were media favorites, and Little Rock newspapers frequently had photos and stories about them.”

The book goes on to chronicle the development of the Little Rock Racquet Club in the 60s, a Pan American Games champion in the 70's, two USA nationals team titles in the 80's, Olympic gold in the 90's and a world record setter in the 2000s.  There are also chapters on the importance of parental involvement, Masters swimming and a tribute to swimmers who died young.  In summary, the book poignantly captures the energy and spirit of the people who make up the great sport of competitive swimming in Central Arkansas.


Chapter Titles include:

Chapter 1. 1920s through 1940s

Chapter 2. 1950s 

Chapter 3. 1960s

Chapter 4. Little Rock Racquet Club

Chapter 5. 1970s

Chapter 6. The Winning Formula: Parents

Chapter 7. 1980s

Chapter 8. 1990s

Chapter 9. The Winning Formula: Motivation

Chapter 10. 2000s

Chapter 11. To An Athlete Dying Young

Chapter 12. Arkansas Masters Swimming

Chapter 13. The Winning Formula: Life Impact

Chapter 14. Afterword



"Racing Starts: A History of Competitive Swimming in Central Arkansas" is a 140-page, full color, hardcover book with more than 200 photographs. The book is available to the public for $25 through the Dolphin-Laser Booster Association. You may purchase it through the teams website at www.Dolphin-Laser.com. You may also purchase the book at either the Little Rock Athletic Club Pro Shop or the Little Rock Racquet Club.  With only 750 copies all proceeds from book sales support the Dolphin - Laser Booster Club, a nonprofit organization that promotes age group swimming in Central Arkansas.


For purchase or additional information, contact the Swim Team Office at the Little Rock Racquet Club, (501) 225-5711, or email Coach Tay Stratton at: taystratton@lrac.com  or visit www.Dolphin-Laser.com