Tsunami established an award in memory of Rick Meier-Windes, who passed away in March 2004. The award honors the highest scoring male and female distance swimmers at the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics championships each year. The highest combined points achieved by competitors in the 400, 800 and the 1500-meter free events will determine the two winners. The maximum number of points is dependent upon event entry restrictions. Should a tie still exist then the competitors points from all other individual events will be added to their distance events totals to establish the winners.
This distinctive award features an “official’s bell” that is used to signal the last lap of a distance race at a swimming competition. It is engraved with the winner’s name, the year presented as well as the name of the award. It truly is the highest individual award given at the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championships.
Rick’s partner, Cris, continues to be an active and vibrant member of San Francisco Tsunami.
A memorial fund has been established to finance the award. If you wish to contribute, please make checks payable to: “San Francisco Tsunami Swim Club”, and mail to San Francisco Tsunami, 584 Castro Street #145, San Francisco, California 94114. In the memo section, please indicate: “RMW Award Fund.” Thank you!
A Tribute to Rick Windes
by Charlie Carson
On March 14, 2004, Rick Windes, one of IGLA’s founders, lost his long, long fight with AIDS. Rick was unable to train much or travel to IGLA Championships and Gay Games in the last several years, so many of our newer members don’t know who he is. That’s too bad because Rick was present at many key events in IGLA history. Like many of us in those early years, he thought he’d hung up the trunks for good following college but the Gay Games inspired him to get back in the water. He competed at Gay Games I and II and was one of those team leaders in the GGII stands who met to discuss how we could get LGBT aquatics competitions going in the years between Gay Games. That meeting, of course, led to San Diego’s hosting what is now known as IGLA’s first championship tournament in 1987.
Also a founder of the San Francisco Tsunami team in 1986, about the only thing Rick missed in the early IGLA years was that first 1987 IGLA meet but his string was unbroken at IGLA between 1988 and 1993, and he also became IGLA’s first statistician, compiling Top Ten performance lists for all the early meets, including local tournaments — and that was without the aid of today’s computers.
During his collegiate years, Rick was one of the top distance swimmers in the U.S., representing the North Carolina State Wolf Pack in the early 70’s while I was a manager for the University of Tennessee Men’s Swimming & Diving Team in Knoxville. One of my duties was keeping a logbook of times swum at various meets, including the NCAA Championships, which UT hosted that year at Knoxville. For some reason when entering Rick’s times and splits the name “Windes” stuck in my head. Of course no one in Tennessee knew how to pronounce it. I guess it was one of those odd portents we were fated to meet. Somehow we missed each other at Gay Games I but we met at GGII in 1986. Rick and I swapped war stories about the UT and NC State coaches and bonded. And I found out the pronunciation was one syllable with a long “i.” Rick did more than anyone else in Pacific Masters Swimming and USMS to elevate the LGBT teams, practices and meets as the equal of any. He was even elected PMS chair for the two-year period of 1992-93, a huge step forward for LGBT visibility in the largest regional association in the U.S. with more than 6500 members. Rick and his partner Cris Allen were among the various IGLA team leaders who traveled to USMS conventions in the early 1990’s, spreading the word that we not only existed but that we were thriving. Former IGLA Co- President Paul Fortoul said Rick had a knack for sitting quietly during floor debate at USMS conventions and when he would talk it would be when discussion got off track — Rick would bring it back to focus with a good point. It’s one of the little ways he had of gaining respect in the swimming community “despite the fact” that he was gay.
At the 1992 USMS convention, the IGLA swimmers posted an announcement of a meeting of gay and lesbian participants to be held in Rick and Cris’s hotel room — Paul reports that the sign kept being taken down so they just kept putting up new ones. Eventually the protesters gave up such tactics at the conventions; I am quite certain Rick’s sense of humor, if not also his height and size, was a type of contributing, intimidating factor that gave some of our would-be harassers pause. Of course he also backed that up with solid knowledge of the sport, including a frightening familiarity with the rulebook, and the fact that he was on a first-name basis with every one of the key players in his LMSC and almost all of the national leaders as well. Rick’s credibility was a factor that cannot be overlooked when we recap the successful effort to add “sexual orientation” to USMS’s non-discrimination clause. He knew how to get things done.
Rick’s appearances at IGLA grew less frequent from the mid-90’s on. He missed some of the Gay Games. His matter-of-fact stories about his various treatments and illnesses, including the “happy” news that one of the biggest problems was the doctors hadn’t really been able to put their finger on what to treat him for until they realized he needed a new liver (!), never failed to amaze me. He retired from many of the activities he used to do, but he kept working on IGLA records out of sheer enjoyment. He was clearly wearing down and more than a few of us wondered, when his beloved Tsunami were tapped to host IGLA ’03, whether he was just aiming to see that through. Well, he made it, and it was no surprise to see him in his judging whites, even though he needed his one-of-a-kind cane to stand, chatting up other PMS rules hounds and IGLA scions about esoteric swimming matters, hovering behind the blocks throughout much of the meet. Cris was, of course, Rick’s rock throughout the years fighting off AIDS-related illnesses. Rick may have been the one holding more official positions in Pacific Masters Swimming, but Cris was right there alongside Rick, contributing with his own quiet strength at conventions, attending countless mainstream and LGBT swim meets, IGLA meetings, Gay Games, and every other non-aquatics part of life. Cris too merits IGLA’s tribute, respect and thanks because he and Rick were a team.
The loss of Rick is lightened by our gratitude for his dedication to aquatics and the LGBT community. His tribute in the Bay Area Reporter cited numerous awards he’d received over the years– two Cable Car Awards, two PMS Contributor of the Year Awards, an Apex Award, the USMS Donnelly Service Awards, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Service Award, and the Tsunami Service Award. The fact that he was the first winner of IGLA’s Distinguished Service Award, serves to remind us that Rick Windes was a foremost contributor to our organization in its early years — no one deserved the recognition more.
The rest of us are still here carrying the torch. How fortunate we all are to have had it carried at the start by someone like Rick Windes.
Past Recipients of the RMW Award
2016: IGLA Edmonton
Andrew Cunningham, SF Tsunami
Patricia F. Powers, Long Beach Grunions
2015: IGLA Stockholm
Kris Estrada, SF Tsunami
André Nussbaumer, Gay Sport Zürich
2013: IGLA Seattle
Lindsey Warren-Shriner, DCAC
2012: IGLA Reykjavik
Gene Kennedy, Liquid Assets New England
Hannah Borgenson, TNYA
2011: IGLA Hawaii
2009: IGLA Copenhagen
Luigi Citriniti, Torino, Italy
Michelle Ward, KY Liquid
2008: IGLA Washington, DC
2007: IGLA Paris
Michelle Girard, Paris Aquatique (Women’s Tie)
Vicki Catlin, Team Florida (Women’s Tie)
Craig Pickering, KY Liquid (Men’s Tie)
André Nussbaumer, Gay Sport Zurich (Men’s Tie)
2005: IGLA Atlanta
Steven Czekala, SF Tsunami
2004: IGLA Fort Lauderdale
Kathleen Romano, TNYA
Steven Czekala, SF Tsunami