Tom Hodgson Inducted 2014

 Tom Hodgson came to competitive swimming later in life than most, competing in only one meet before turning 15. He learned to swim on the shores of Lake Pepin, taught by his mother, a varsity swimmer at the University of Michigan in the 1930s. He progressed quickly, winning his first two State HS titles with a State Record after only two years of competitive swimming. He would end his high school career with four state championships and the 200 IM state record, being the only swimmer in Minnesota history to be a championship finalist in five different individual events (in the two-event entry limit era).

A successful Division I career followed at the University of Minnesota, where he held 5 Freshman Team records, broke the varsity record in the 400 IM, qualified for three NCAA Championships and the 1972 Olympic Trials, and was named Co-Captain in his senior year.

He immediately became involved in Masters Swimming, competing in the first-ever Masters meet held in Minnesota, along with fellow Hall of Famer John Bergman. Shortly thereafter, in 1975, he founded the Northern Shores Aquatic Club Masters team. The NSCA group grew to over 100 members, training six times per week at the Chippewa Middle School pool in Shoreview. In national competition, Northern Shores—competing as a team against state-wide collections, posted three national top five team finishes between 1976 and 1979. This team, with Tom’s heavily-involved coaching, became a mecca for serious Masters Swimmers, and truly brought Masters swimming in Minnesota to national prominence. That Northern Shores team of the mid-70s also included Minnesota Masters Hall of Fame swimmers Mamie Brown, Ray Hakomaki, Jim Pelissier, Roger Bosveld, Bill Kansas, and Robin Kleffman. During this time, Tom took the reins of Masters Swimming in Minnesota, organizing meets, keeping records, publishing results, and writing the Old Sternwheeler’s Masters Monthly newsletter. It was this shepherding that saw Minnesota Masters move from its infancy to a vibrant, national-class association.

Tom’s own swimming record during that time was fairly remarkable. He held the majority of the State Records in the 25-29 age group in both short and long course, and was a part of every relay record in the 25 and over age group. In addition, Tom’s national competition record was outstanding, with multiple top-5 finishes plus several runners-up, including a dramatic 100 Back in 1977 where he missed a national championship by .04 seconds. His 1500m Free swum at that nationals set a Minnesota State Record that stood for 37 years.

In 1979, Tom began coaching at the University of St. Thomas, and stepped away from Masters Swimming for 38 years. After retiring from St. Thomas in 2014, he began swimming for his own fitness, and three years later, returned to competition at the urging of Marc Anderson. His first event in almost four decades was a 400 Free Relay with his old NSAC teammate Bill Kansas. His last event found him struggling through a slow-motion 1000 Freestyle, described later on Facebook, as “…moving through the water with all the elegance and majesty of a blue whale that appears to be critically ill.”

Tom survived that meet and went on to see his fitness and times improve to the point where, when paired with enough fast swimmers, he has made some USMS and FINA national and world Top 10 relay places, plus a smattering of semi-uncontested FINA short course meters individual rankings.

While 38 years away from Masters may have taken its toll on his body, Tom’s enthusiasm for coaching, helping, and supporting fellow Masters swimmers has not faded.

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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.

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