Class of 2013Active: 1969 - 1979
10 Open Victories
If there's such thing as a pure beach volleyball player, Buzz Swarts fits the bill. Not the tallest guy on the beach, Buzz possessed an unmatched arsenal of shots that often had his opponents scratching their heads or muttering under their breath in frustration. He played relentless defense and perfected the art of the one-armed stab to get at balls that nobody else could. And despite his lack of height, Buzz was an explosive jumper who made opponents pay if they underestimated his offensive skills.
Buzz grew up in the South Bay, the son of the legendary Hoppy Swarts, a surfing pioneer. Buzz, like so many other beach legends, attended Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. But there was no volleyball team at Mira Costa at that time and Buzz instead starred on the basketball court.
When he turned his attention to beach volleyball, Buzz quickly developed into one of the most consistent players on the Open circuit. He won 10 Open titles in his career with partners such as Matt Gage, Bob Jackson, and the legendary Ron Von Hagen. His biggest win came in 1972 when he and Gage beat Bob Clem and Larry Rundle and an exceptionally deep field to win the Manhattan Open and get his name permanently engraved on the pier with the other greats of the sport.
As with many other players of his era, Buzz also excelled in mixed doubles. He was a multiple winner of the Marine Street mixed tournament, at that time the most prestigious mixed doubles tournament in California. Buzz often competed with the Hall of Famer Nina Growinkle Matthies in those tournaments and his ability to cover so much court made him ideally suited to the demands of mixed competition.
Buzz was also influential in establishing the first courts at the pier in the City of Hermosa, which quickly became the hotbed for many of the best players of the time.
As important as his victories and other accomplishments, it may be the way Buzz played the game that set him apart. While he was a fierce competitor, he played with class and dignity, treated his partners and opponents with respect, and was one of the best-liked players of his generation. Buzz Swartz made the sport of volleyball better and his place in the hall of fame is well deserved.