■ BY SUE ERWIN
Ten female athletes who were members of the Arizona State University swim team reunited recently at the Sharp House in Boca Grande.
They had not seen each other in nearly 40 years, but once they were together again, it seemed like a day hadn’t passed.
The ladies swam together at ASU between 1974 and 1981.
Leslie Cliff from Vancouver, Canada; Peggy Tosdal from Seattle, Washington; Pam Rogers from Cape Cod, Mass.; Kelly Rowell from Flagstaff, Arizona; Sue Sloan Kelsey from Victoria Vancouver Island; Sandy Thompson Wogec from Roseville, Cal.; Gail Amundrud from Calgary, Canada; Cheryl Gibson from Edmonton, Canada; Allison Grant Townsend from Riverview Fla.; and Kathy Shipman from Maui, Hawaii spent a week on the island boating, fishing, golfing, playing tennis – and, of course, swimming.
And this group of women is anything but ordinary.
Gibson is a multiple U.S. Olympic medal winner and, due to the drug scandal involving the East German swimmers at the time, is a gold medalist. Cliff, Sloan, and Amundrud were all Olympic medalists for Canada during the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.
Tosdal was one of the first females to be awarded a collegiate athletic scholarship to Arizona State (if not the first – there is an argument that a tennis player got the first).
“Between the 10 of us there are 4 x Division 1 College National Swimming Team titles, 28 x Division I College National Individual titles, numerous PAC 10 Conference titles and records,” Townsend said. “Most of us were 4-time All-Americans.”
The women flew to Tampa on Monday, April 17 and met at Townsend’s home. They enjoyed a barbecue at her house in Tampa before heading to Boca Grande the next day.
“We were all recruited to Arizona State by Mona Plummer, the head women’s swimming coach at Arizona State University,” Townsend said. “She went on to be the Assistant Athletic Director at ASU. She passed away of cancer in the mid-1980s. A group of us got together and campaigned to get the new pool at Arizona State University named after her. It is now called the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.”
Travelling from all around the nation, the former teammates spent an active week on the island together to reunite and share new experiences. Townsend said she and another one of the ladies have kept in touch over the years. Last year, they decided to reach out and reconnect with the others.
“It just took a couple of photos of this area to entice them to reunite in Boca Grande,” Townsend said. “It’s so gorgeous here, and we all had such a good time. Everybody wants to come back again.”
The group will most likely chose Boca Grande as a destination to reunite again in the future.
“It was such an amazing week. Gasparilla Inn and Boca Grande was the absolutely perfect place for our reunion.”