Carrie Erzen Stolar (inducted 2022)

Carrie began her swimming career like many other champion swimmers, by failing her first swim lesson at age five. Undeterred, her mother signed her up for the Naperville, IL community swim team, where she fell under the tutelage of Hall of Fame coach Judy Busse. Training in a four-lane, 20-yard pool, Carrie quickly made friends—swimmers who would become life-long friends.

From there, Carrie’s swimming life would follow a path familiar to many other swimmers, into lifeguarding, swim lessons, and coaching the younger swimmers in the club. By 18, Carrie was herself a champion swimmer and was coaching 120 age-group swimmers.

A full swimming scholarship drew Carrie to Vanderbilt University, where she made an immediate impact, earning All American honors in the 200 Fly and 400 IM. In her sophomore year Vandy went from Division II to Division I, yet Carrie continued to set school records while achieving in the classroom. Across all sports, Carrie was Vanderbilt’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. And, not surprisingly, she continued the familiar pattern, making more lifelong friends.

After college, Carrie traveled to Germany to study on a Fulbright Scholarship, her academic concentrations being, in her words, “international economics and travel.” Part of that travel was to swim meets in Germany, reinvigorating her love for swimming, meeting more people and making more friends.

When she returned to the U.S., there was lots of work-related travel, graduate school at Northwestern University, and ultimately a job offer with Pillsbury that brought her to the Twin Cities and a quick connection to the swimmers at Eden Prairie. But two kids and two jobs eventually sidelined her swimming involvement until she found another connection—this time with the Minnetonka Masters team. With a steady home for training, she quickly earned her Masters competition chops. In her first USMS-sanctioned competition, the 2006 Short Course Nationals, she finished third in the 200 Fly and in the top-eight places in five of her six events.

When she next returned to Nationals—in 2008—she added more top places, including a noteworthy swim in the 100 Fly: when her finish time was displayed on the board showing a 4-second personal record, her first thought was, “I didn’t think I could still go that fast!”

Carrie is still going fast—very fast—in the pool, but she has also discovered the joys of open water swimming. For Carrie, the freedom of swimming outside and connecting with the natural movements of the water is deeply satisfying.

But equally satisfying is Carrie’s desire to give back to the swim community. Her list of service to and leadership in the Masters Swimming community is Hall-of-Fame-worthy in itself. She says, “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wanted to give back.” So when she was asked to serve at the National level with USMS, her dedication and skill saw her climbing the ladder to ALTS Committee Chair, then up to the National Board, then to USMS Secretary. Much of this was accomplished while serving on the Minnesota Masters Board (as Chair beginning in 2021) and working as the Head Masters Coach at Minnetonka.

That Carrie Stolar is drawn to serving others is no mystery. Of all of her Masters Swimming activities, it is her time as a Swim Angel that is most rewarding. Being able to “shape the future of United States Masters Swimming for the better” is what makes her feel the proudest. Humble words from a woman with a bucketful of national and FINA Top Ten times and Minnesota state records.

Her own words provide the most perfect illustration, “I am here because of all of those in the swimming community. It’s not a solo journey…It’s the journey of a swimming community.”

About Minnesota Masters Swimming

Minnesota Masters Swimming LMSC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to a healthy swimming lifestyle for adult swimmers within 87 counties in Minnesota and 3 in Western Wisconsin. It is the local governing body for United States Masters Swimming (USMS).

There are 1,172 registered swimmers in the Minnesota LMSC and over 60,000 nationwide. Anyone 18 years of age or older is eligible to join. No prior competitive swimming experience is necessary.

Minnesota Masters Contacts

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