Ed Solotar, of Solotar Swim Team and Starlit, was the fourth ASCA Hall of Fame Honoree at the 2006 ASCA World Clinic Awards Banquet, and was represented at the Banquet by his daughter. Solotar devoted the final 26 years of his life to the advancement of the sport of swimming, and not only in the United States. At the State Department’s bidding, Solotar traveled to South America often to assist in the development of fledgling swimming programs in several countries.
Coach Solotar’s Historic Athletes
Melissa Belote – Olympic Gold Medallist
World Record Holder. 3 Gold Medals in 1972, 3 Olympic Records, 3 World Records, 9 American Records.
Margie Moffet – 1 World Record 267 National Age Group Top Ten Rankings. 19 National Age Group Records. 52 Senior National Rankings. 24 World Rankings at Solotar Swim Team alone.
Coach Solotar’s History
NYU, B.S., MA. Physical Education
Kappa Phi Kappa National Honor Society in Education.
President, Potomac Valley AAU
Member, USA Olympic Committee
Head Coach, Maccabean Games
Assistant Coach, Pan Am Games
Assistant Coach, USA Teams to London, Bucharest, Leningrad.
A Tribute to Coach Solotar, from Mary Sykes, at his Funeral Service on November 4, 1984.
“For those who don’t know me, I knew Mr. Solotar for seventeen years and swam for him for eight years. I would like to reflect briefly on those years that he was my coach. For those of you who swam for him, or whose children swam for him, I hope that some of what I have to say may be familiar to you. For those who do not know him as a coach, I hope you will listen and realize how many lives he touched like mine.
The first thing I’d like to emphasize about Mr. Solotar the coach was that you swam For him. Not for his team. Not under him. Not with him. You swim FOR HIM. Your victories were his victories, and your defeats were his defeats. I remember what I know was one of his proudest moments as a coach… when Melissa Belote won the 100 meters backstroke at the Olympic Trials in 1972, a feat which qualified her for the Olympic team that year. As many of you know, she went on to break a world record later that week and then to Munich to win three Olympic Gold Medals. But any of his swimmers would tell you that those races were icing on the cake to that 100 backstroke. I hadn’t made the time to qualify for the Chicago Olympic Trials, and I wasn’t even there. But the morning after the 100 backstroke I hadn’t heard anything and figured that no news was bad news. We were practicing outside at the Brookville pool at that time of year and as the car in which I was riding approached the gates to the pool for practice, I saw a person in front of the gates of the pool, jumping up and down holding a newspaper in his hands.
As we pulled closer, he was yelling ‘She Won, She Won!’ Well, the next thing I know there were eight of us jumping up and down and up and down and screaming and yelling. You have to realize this was 6 in the morning… the commuters buzzing by on 395, about 25 yards away, must have thought us nuts. All I could think of was, ‘I’m so glad for him. He deserves it. He will finally get national recognition as a coach.’ Of course I was thrilled for Melissa, But I think she will understand when I say I was more happy for him when she won and made the Olympic Team.
The second thing I would like to emphasize is that Mr. Solotar taught me the meaning of RESPECT. You notice that I still say ‘Mr. Solotar.’ I never called him Ed. Well, never to his face. And it was not just swimmers of my era who had this respect. This summer my mother was standing next to an 8 year old boy at a summer league meet. He informed her. ‘I can do a 50 – I swim for Mr. Solotar.’ The little boys mouth dropped open and he just stared at her as if she knew God.
He not only taught me respect for him but to respect myself. He taught me that the only way to succeed is to work hard. There is no secret to winning a race. There are only hours and hours of practice, alarm clocks that go off hours before dawn, miles driven on the beltway, 30×50 on a minute at the end of every long course workout, pulling and kicking, 100’s and 200’s, and before the advent of the paceclock, hearing him bellow out the seconds ticking away for each lap which any neighbor within five blocks could hear very clearly. He never sat down at workout, or disappeared like I’ve seen other coaches do. He was on deck and practically in the pool with you.
He willed me to work hard. And he taught me respect for myself by always emphasizing it’s your time that counts, not beating the person next to you. If YOU improve, that’s what matters. Not winning a race. Not Winning the Senior Meet. But doing your best time and doing your Best.
He was not without his faults. He was one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever known. His relay teams put together the four fastest individual times. Even if he knew, I knew and the rest of the world knew that someone was a great relay swimmer, it didn’t matter. There was no bending that rule. I know. I never came close to winning a point if he thought he was right. He never hid his displeasure. He used to yell at you in front of everyone, including your friends, your mother, and your 3 year old brother. I was called “Fathead” for more times than I care to remember.
He could be a real pain in the butt. But I loved him. And I will never forget him. And I think all of use who swam for Mr. Solotar, whether for one year or eight years, will be better people because of our time with him. Thank you Mr. Solotar.” – Mary Sykes
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