On a weekend where wonderful women and mothers are celebrated, a countless number of Central Pennsylvanians lost a father figure with the passing of Russell “Rusty” Owens at age 84.
He was a swimming legend in our area, coaching kids of all ages for 60 years, leading a successful program that helped produce a pair of Olympians in Anita Nall (1992) and Jeremy Linn (1996). He graduated from John Harris High School before joining the marines. After he served our country, he dedicated his life to serving the community.
“He looked forward to summers,” said his longtime friend and fellow coach, Mike Mausner. “He loved the people, he loved the [swimming] club — he was there every day.”
The bigger names he coached may look familiar to those who didn’t know Rusty, but it was his personal connections with numerous young swimmers that made him a local legend.
“You always knew that he cared,” Mausner added. “Little kids gravitated to him.”
In 2010, he was recognized by the International Swimming Hall of Fame for his 50 years of dedication to the sport.
“He had that smile,” Mausner said. “If you knew Rusty, you loved him. He was just a great human being.”