A Rewarding Life Coaching Swimming Brings An Honor

Posted: April 19, 1992

The decades of dedication Sue Clayton has given to YMCA swimming will be rewarded tonight at the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Clayton, 68, of Frazer will receive the Y's highest swimming award, the Joseph G. Rogers Award, for her contributions to competitive aquatics.

"Coaching is such a rewarding thing, watching swimmers achieve what they're trying to achieve," Clayton said. "I've gotten a lot more from them than they've ever gotten from me."

While she's in Fort Lauderdale, Clayton will have the opportunity to watch some of the swimmers she trained years ago competing in the YMCA Nationals.

"I feel so strongly that kids can grow within the team concept at the Y. Their attitude with each other is so great," she said.

For Clayton, the idea of winning or losing was never important.

"She stresses values, getting along, sportsmanship with the kids. She's a superb individual with a high moral character," said Jim Stocker, chairman of the award committee.

Although she retired in 1990 from her job as associate executive director of the Upper Main Line YMCA in Berwyn, Clayton still volunteers her time as a swim instructor at the Y. She is currently teaching 1-year-old triplets to swim.

Clayton has been instructing swimmers since the late 1950s. She was aquatic director of the Main Line YMCA in Ardmore from 1964 to 1975. During that time, the girls' team won state championships seven times.

A Baldwin School graduate, Clayton has trained dozens of state record- breakers and three national record-breakers.

"I'll never forget her telling me to finish my stroke. She was well- respected and she seemed pretty powerful," said Holly Kleiderlein, 17, of Wayne, who had Clayton for one of her first coaches. Clayton will watch Kleiderlein compete at the YMCA Nationals this week.

Victims of heart attacks and accidents, and cerebral-palsy victims have come to Clayton for pool therapy. Clayton received a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1946 from Sargent College, then part of Boston University.

After graduating, she taught physical education at Friends Select School in Philadelphia, one of a few schools that had a pool. There she initiated kindergarten and preschool swim lessons.

Clayton, whose four children swam competitively, has also taught physical education and coached varsity lacrosse at Radnor High School. She was a member of the National YMCA Swimming and Diving Council.

She has demonstrated swim techniques on national television and is the second woman to win the Rogers award, established in 1974.

"I like working with people and youngsters. Swimming has been my thing all my life," Clayton said.

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