Norris W. Fluke Jr., 79, set world records in swimming

March 12, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Norris W. Fluke Jr., who set world records in the 75-79 age group as a member of the Maryland Masters Swim Team, died Saturday of complications of cancer at St. Agnes Hospital. He was 79 and a resident of Charlestown Retirement Community.

Despite being ill with cancer, he competed in the 19th annual Maryland Masters Winter Meet Feb. 24-25 at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, swimming in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races, the 50-, 100- and 200-yard backstroke races and the 100-yard individual medley.

"Here was a man who had a very serious cancer operation last summer and lost 25 pounds competing in a meet. I couldn't believe it," said teammate Alex Petrlik of Catonsville.

"He could have given up, but he didn't. He was so inspiring and what he did was a triumph of the human spirit," Mr. Petrlik said.

Mr. Fluke was a team member for 19 years and had never swam competitively before then. The team consists of about 300 members ranging in age from 19 to 90.

During his years in the 75-79 age group, he set world records in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke and the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys.

He set 34 Maryland state records and 15 Maryland Senior Olympic records in the 65-69, 70-74 and 75-79 age groups. He set a National YMCA Masters record in the 200-yard individual medley in the 75-79 age group.

He was most proud of the fact that the U.S. Masters Swimming organization named him an All-American in 1992 for placing first in one or more events. In the 1995 U.S. Masters Swimming rankings, he was in the top 10 in 12 events.

Said Nancy Brown, a teammate and a Maryland Masters coach: "He only started swimming competitively in 1976 and he was up against ex-Olympians and others who were nationally ranked. What he accomplished starting so late in life was simply unbelievable."

Mr. Fluke, turned to swimming after knee problems made jogging difficult.

Mr. Fluke, who started working as a salesman in 1940, retired in 1986 from the Social Security Administration, where he was an employee development specialist for 13 years.

Born and raised in Ashland, Ohio, he was educated at schools there and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1939 and a master's degree in 1950, both from Ohio State University.

During World War II, he served in the Army Medical Corps in New Guinea and the Philippines and was discharged with the rank of lieutenant in 1945.

He and his wife, the former Audrey Monk, were founders of the Vegetarian Resource Group in Baltimore. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, Charlestown Retirement Community, 719 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville.

He is survived by his wife and three sons, Mark T. Fluke of Baltimore, Norris W. Fluke III of Pittsburgh and Philip C. Fluke of Glen Rock, N.J.; a daughter, Pamela E. Rice of Pittsburgh; a brother, George G. Fluke of Boulder, Colo.; a stepdaughter, Jacqueline Wilson of Reading, England; and five grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/12/96

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