Wally began his swimming career at the Flint YMCA when he was only seven years old. He became one of the top age group competitors in Michigan. His years at Flint Central High School 1949-1952 were filled with school and pool record-breaking performances in the freestyle and backstroke. Upon graduating from high school Wally served in 82nd Airborne Division of the Army. While stationed at Fort Bragg, he learned the butterfly stroke to which he would attribute much of his lifetime success to.
After serving for his country, Wally returned to college and competed for MSU in 1956-1958. During his time at MSU he was a Big Ten Swimming and Diving champion, an All-American and served as co-captain alongside Jack Beattie his senior year. In 1956, he placed fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Detroit.
Wally graduated from MSU in 1958. After a short coaching stint at Florida State University, he returned home to Flint and coached at his high school Alma Mater from 1959-1964. In 1964, Wally would begin his fulltime career in pharmaceutical sales when they moved to South Bend, Indiana where they would spend three years before moving back to Lansing.
In 1973, Wally was encouraged by his good friend George Runciman to participate in his first master’s meet, the National Long Course Championships in Chicago. At the age of 39, Wally was quickly hooked on masters swimming. This would lead to him coaching and promoting masters swimming at the Lansing area YMCA and the Michigan Athletic Club in East Lansing. He also helped organize the Capital Area Swimmers and Triathletes club known as CATS.
Wally’s swimming resume consists of an impressive 18 All-American awards, 13 National Records, two world records and 19 National Championship meet titles. In 2004 he was the recipient of the Michigan Masters Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into the Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame. Then in 2009 he was inducted into the Flint High School Sports Hall of Fame.
In addition to his swimming and pharmaceutical career, Wally also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Varsity ‘S’ Club and is a past president of the Downtown Coaches Club. He can always be found with a smile on his face and an entertaining story to tell about places and people. When asked what his two top lifetime achievements were, he had a big smile on his face and said, “First, celebrating sixty wonderful years of marriage on August 13, 2015 to Ione,” his high school sweetheart and “second, breaking the world records for the 50 meter and 100 meter butterfly in the 60-64 age group at the 1994 World Masters Championships in Montreal.”
Wally and his wife, Iona, currently live in East Lansing, Michigan but spend five months out of the year in Naples, Florida. They have two children and five grandchildren.