Robin Kleffman (Inducted 2019)

Robin’s competitive swimming career began at Hibbing High School. He flourished in the great tradition there, working his way to a great senior year as an outstanding swimmer and a fine allaround athlete. When he matriculated at Macalester College in the fall of 1965, he looked at his athletic opportunities. Being a bright young man, he noted that the swimming team had two practices—the first beginning at 6:00 AM—and that the butterfly event was 200 yards long. He also noted that practices for the track team held to a much more civilized schedule, and that much of his training involved carrying around two 16 pound iron balls in a bag. So, in college, Robin gave up swimming and threw the shot as a Scot. 

His love for swimming never faded, and when Masters swimming was in its formative years in Minnesota, Robin returned to the pool for the State Meet in 1974, and won the 50 Free (27.2) and the 50 Breast (33.3). Not long after, he found the Northern Shores Aquatic Club team, and became a regular at their daily practices. It was with Northern Shores that Robin established a national presence. In 1976 at St. Louis, Robin had key legs in helping relays to a 2nd and a 3rd place finish. He also placed 8th in the 50 Fly in his first Nationals. The next year in Spokane, he placed top 10 in every event he swam, including fifth place in the 50 Fly. Then at Dearborn, his next Nationals, his 50 Fly was good for 3rd place—28.80 for LCM! More National and State Meet swims would follow, with state championships and records falling, with 2nd place finishes in the 50 Breast and 50 Fly, and a National Championship swim in the 100 Fly in 1983. 

As life got busy, and Robin and Elaine opened the Round Barn B&B in the beautiful Hiawatha Valley, that breakneck competitive regimen proved too much. After the 1993 State Meet, Robin took a 10-year haitus. As is so often the case, circumstance intervened, and after a recovery from surgery, Robin returned to the pool to swim for his health. In the winter of 2015-16, when bookings at the B&B waned, weekends freed up. So Robin climbed up on the blocks for the Men’s 60-64 100 Fly at the Burnsville Throwback meet (appropriately enough), and celebrated his return with a 1:13.34. Since then, Robin has been on a record-breaking rampage. When he aged up to 70-74, he began breaking the records of some of Minnesota Master’s legends: Ray Hakomaki and John Bergman. As of 2019, Robin has accumulated 50 Top-10 national rankings. 

He loves the competition, but it’s not self-focused. He takes joy in watching his fellow swimmers better their times or get a relay into a national Top-10, and Robin gets as much pleasure out of the team aspect of swimming—something he proved at Northern Shores almost a half-century ago. Robin Kleffman’s Hall of Fame swimming career is like a pair of highly decorated bookends— each laden with medals, weighted with great friendships, and the ends hold between them the best that Minnesota Masters Swimming has to offer.

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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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