ILSA HISTORY Romanian version
This page is an attempt to record the history of the club, a truly daunting task.
Please send your comments, corrections and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to Herzl Bözsi (Boci) and Schwartz Edith for their invaluable input on the club's first decade of existence.
Some data comes from the official site of the Romanian Swimming Federation (http://www.swimming.ro/)
The ILSA initials stand for Industria Linii, Societate pe Actiuni, the nationally-known textile factory founded in Timisoara in the first decade of the 20th century. Known as "Gyapjúipar" and "Wollindustrie" to Hungarian and German speakers, ILSA was one of the city's largest employers, with a reputation for caring for the well-being of its workers.
During its first years of existence, the factory opened a Kindergarten and Nursery for the children of their employees. A piece of land located directly next to the factory was made available to ILSA's employees for athletic activities, primarily tennis. ILSA's handball team is documented to have been the first one of its kind in the country. A building was erected on the banks of the Bega River to serve as the center of ILSA's new rowing club, one of the first such undertakings in Romania. The idea of adding a swimming pool was born in the late 1920s.
At first, financial difficulties delayed the kickoff of the project. In an attempt to supplement the available funds, a group of young ILSA employees started a fund raising campaign consisting of Sunday Tea & Dancing events. The admission fees collected at these events helped finance the pool construction project, and sometime during the early 1930's, the ILSA pool became a reality.
The 1930's and 1940's - The First Two Decades - The Water Polo Team's Golden Era
Soon after the inauguration, a group of swimmers and water-polo players from the old military Igiena pool transferred to the new ILSA facility, along with their Hungarian-born coach, Ravasz Pali (Hapsi). Among the new arrivals: Albala Sanyi, Hamburger Gyuri, Balajty Pali, Korniss Ernö, Hecht Otto, Stein Sanyi, Zsuska Salay, Lebovits Edith, Stein Duci, Herzl Magda, Spiegel Joli and a young kid named Stubi Sterbentz, who went on to become ILSA's undisputed longevity champion, as he remained active with the club, in various capacities, during the following five decades. Most newly transferred athletes were also offered employment with the factory.
With its length of 33.33 meters, the pool was suitable for official swimming competitions, and in no time, ILSA became one of Romania's strongest swimming and water polo clubs, with large crowds typically filling the grass-covered bleachers to capacity. ILSA's first national champions were Bohunitzki Laci and Pullök Jenci. The latter, a Hungarian-born swimmer, amassed a total of nine national titles during a time period spanning from 1933 to 1939. Salay Zsuska, the daughter of one of the founders and main supporters of the club, became ILSA's first woman to win a national title.
The water polo team's first participation in the national championship appears to have taken place in 1933. According to data published by the Romanian Water polo Federation, the lineup of the original ILSA team was Lusztig Laci, Molnar Enci, Bader Heini, Balint Toto, Flesh Bonzo, Ravasz Pali, Fischer (first name?), and Freund Imre (Emerich).
Sometime during the 1930's, coach Ravasz Pali left the club and the city. The vacant position was filled by Freund Imre, nicknamed Apaca, a local athlete. Under his leadership, the club consolidated its reputation as one of the nation's top clubs.
In 1942, ILSA's Jewish employees were laid off without warning from their factory jobs and were also banned from participating in the club's athletic programs. After the war, they were reinstated and the situation returned back to normal.
Immediately after World War II, club managers Jancu Bercovici and Kurthy-Bacsi (first name unknown), brought to Timisoara a few successful swimmers and water polo players from other cities. Among the new arrivals was Hungarian-born Török Gabor (Gabi), a top-notch water polo player from Ferencvaros Budapest, who remained active with the club both as a player and coach until the early 1960's. Ducu Munteanu, a breaststroker from Bucharest, and Sarkadi (first name?), a backstroker from Cluj, were two other notable "imported" swimmers who joined the club toward the end of the 1940's.
The years immediately after the war marked the emergence of ILSA's water polo team as Romania's powerhouse. Lead by Török Gabi, who simultaneously held both playing and coaching duties, and supported by stellar players such as Adalbert Sterbenz, Norman Zoltan, Weinreich Lazar, Novak Jozsef, Molnar Endre, Bohunitzki Laszlo, Kepich Gyuri, Retscher Adalbert (Öcsi), and Iosim Octavian, ILSA's "Arany Csapat" (Dream Team) embarked on a winning streak that brought them six consecutive national championships, starting in 1946 and ending in 1951. At the same time, ILSA's water polo team provided the backbone of Romania's national team.
The water polo team benefited from the overlapping careers of not one, but two goalies of international caliber: Norman Zoltan (Zoli) and Weinreich Lazar (Lali). A decent swimmer, Weinreich also doubled up as a central defender, with Norman Zoli playing goalie. After Norman's retirement, Weinreich Lali became ILSA's starting goalie and was selected to be part of the national team. Although rated as the nation's best goalie at the time, Weinreich Lali played for Romania only in games that took place within the country. Being perceived as a high flight risk, Weinreich did not travel with the team outside of Romania.
Just before Adalbert Sterbenz's first trip abroad as a member or Romania's national team, he changed his last name to Stanescu, in response to an official "suggestion". Playing at hole set, Adalbert Stanescu (nicknamed Stubi and Pubi) led the league in scoring over several seasons and scored many of the national team's goals in international games.
Adding to his water polo successes, Bohunitzki Laci won four national champion titles in the 100 and 200 meter freestyle events, which established him as one of ILSA's all-time greats. Later, after his swimming days were over, Bohunitzki became active in recruiting and coaching young talent. Similarly, Török Gabi rounded up his water polo achievements with a couple of national titles in long distance freestyle events.
The end of the decade brought to national prominence a handful of ILSA swimmers such as Novak Jozsef (Bupsi), Lovas Peter, Theodor Schaed (Titi), Wiener Greti and Bagiu Lucian, whose careers continued into the 1950's. Wiener Greti later married ILSA teammate Weinreich Lali.
A native of Timisoara, Weinreich Greti emerged in 1947 as one of Romania's top female freestylers. Known for her trademark eight kicks per cycle, Weinreich Greti made Romania's 4x100 meter freestyle relay and swam in various international meets. She retired from active competition in 1953, while husband Lali remained active until the mid 1960's.
Titu Groza, the nephew of communist leader Petru Groza, moved to Timisoara sometime during the 1940's and soon became one of Romania's best sprinters of the period. During 1948-1953, he won multiple national championships and swam on Romania's national team in international meets.
In the late 1940's, ILSA's 4x100 meter medley relay, consisting of Weinreich Lali, Titu Groza, Titi Schaed and Novak Bupsi, took first place in "Campionatele Nationale de Seniori". Weinreich Lali, the relay's breaststroker, is yet another ILSA athlete to have won national titles in both swimming and water polo. During the same period, Titi Schaed, the relay's backstroker, won four national titles in the "juniori" category (100 and 200 meter backstroke).
During these years, the club and its facilities remained accessible only to factory employees and their families. A strong social bond kept these families together beyond just the athletic aspect, as club members also took part in field trips and other activities.
The 1950's - Olympic Participation in Swimming and Water Polo
Sometime during the early 1950's, the club opened its doors to non-employees as well. The relatively low cost of ILSA's annual membership (about 100 lei per year), brought into the club a large number of local youngsters, an important contributing factor to ILSA's future successes.
In 1950 and 1951, still lead by player-coach Török Gabi and continuing to draw from its strengths - Norman Zoli and Weinreich Lali's goalkeeping, Török Gabi's ball-handling skills, Novak Bupsi's speed, and Adalbert Stanescu's raw power at the "hole set" position - the water polo team continued its winning ways by adding a fifth and sixth national championship title.
ILSA's string of six consecutive national championships finally ended in 1952, when it relinquished the top spot to CCA Bucharest.
In 1952, Romania's water polo team took part in the Olympic Games held in Helsinki, Finland. ILSA provided not only four key players (Adalbert Stanescu, Norman Zoltan, Török Gabi and the Cleveland-born Iosim Octavian), but also the team's coach (Török Gabi). Also on the Olympic team: Hoszpodar Zoltan, originally from Arad, who for a short period of time swam for ILSA during the early 1950's. The team finished seventeenth out of the twenty one participating nations.
The emergence of Bucharest as Romania's premier water polo city during the early 1950's effectively put an end to ILSA's domestic dominance. While no longer able to contend with the capital city's "amateur" clubs such as CCA and Dinamo, ILSA remained a fairly strong team, able to successfully compete against Romania's other water polo centers, such as Cluj, Tirgu Mures, Oradea and Arad. Ironically, in 1957, Dinamo Bucharest won its first of many national championships under the direction of coach Freund Imre, a former ILSA standout.
Romania's national team competing in the European Championships of 1954 in Torino, Italy, featured three ILSA players (Adalbert Stanescu, Novak Bupsi and Octavian Iosim).
In recognition of ILSA's contribution to the game of water polo, five of its players were awarded honorary titles by Romania's sports authorities. Stanescu Adalbert received the title of "Maestru Emerit al Sportului", Romania's highest athletic honorary title, while Iosim Octavian, Retscher Adalbert, Török Gabor and Weinreich Lali, were awarded the title of "Maestru al Sportului", Romania's second highest athletic title.
For a few years during the early 1950's, ILSA's water polo team competed under the name of Flamura Rosie (The Red Flag), a "fashionable" name during Romania's first decade of communism. In 1953, Flamura Rosie finished second in the national water polo league, behind champions CCA Bucharest and ahead of Progresul Tirgu-Mures and Dinamo Bucharest. In addition to the still-viable veterans Stanescu and Török, the club benefited from the steady performance of goalie Jorji Moga, one of Romania's best goalkeepers of the early 1950's. Sometime during the mid-1950's, the club reverted back to its well-established Industria Linii name.
By the late 1950's, most players from ILSA's glory days had retired from active competition. Coached by former player Stubi Stanescu, the team now included Papa Csopi, Kelemen Laszlo, Laszlo Ioan (Lina), Jorji Moga, Molnar Andrei (Andrish), Kuliner Lica, Marin Man, Dinu Selegianu and Gavrila Nicolae. With these players, ILSA retained its place within Romania's Divizia A, albeit in its lower half.
Tiberiu Babeu's versatility brought him national championships in swimming and water polo in the very early 1950's, both as a member of ILSA's youth team. After the end of his athletic career, Tiberiu Babeu became a referee in Romania's water polo first division.
The 1950's produced a handful of swimmers of national and international caliber, such as Novak Jozsef (Bupsi) (freestyle), Weinreich Greti (freestyle), Lovas Peter (papillon), Bagiu Lucian (freestyle, long distance events), Titu Groza (freestyle sprinter) and Hoszpodar Zoltan (freestyle, sprint and long distance). The latter's association with ILSA was short lived, due to his transfer to CCA Bucharest. Also among Romania's top swimmers of the period: breaststroker Greiner Dolfi, whose career also included a stint with CCA Bucharest, Domany Evi (butterfly), Greti Reiser (backstroke), Aurel Cirmu, as well as two swimmers originally from Sibiu, namely Heitz Felix (breaststroke, eight times national champion) and Lisbeth Bock (freestyle, fourteen national titles during 1948-1955).
In 1952, Novak Bupsi became not only ILSA's, but also Romania's first swimmer ever to participate in the Olympic Games: competing in the 100 meter freestyle event, he finished 26th with a time of 1:00. Back from the Olympics, Novak remained one of Romania's best freestyler and represented the country in international swim meets. During his peak years of 1947-1955, Novak won multiple Romanian national champion titles and set a handful of national records.
On April 12, 1952, competing in Bucharest's Floreasca indoor pool, Titu Groza became the first Romanian to swim 100 meter freestyle under one minute (59:20 seconds). A few years later, Titu Groza committed suicide under unknown circumstances.
Between 1950 and 1955, one-time ILSA swimmer Hoszpodar Zoltan (Zsoni), won eight national champion titles in swimming, while also making Romania's water polo national team. With the water polo team, Hoszpodar participated in the Helsinki and Melbourne Olympic Games (1952 and 1956, respectively), which makes him the only ILSA athlete to have competed in two Olympic Games. In Melbourne, the team finished on a commendable 8th place. Hoszpodar Zoltan was among the players who elected not to return to Romania and settled in the United States instead.
The members of ILSA's swim team were all dressed in blue team uniforms, a practice discontinued in subsequent decades.
Sometime during the mid 1950's, Bagiu Lucian (Gub) and Stubi Stanescu were stabbed in the back during a confrontation with a couple of thugs in Parcul Pionierilor, a centrally located public park. With his lungs permanently damaged due to a direct hit, Gub's swimming career was cut short by this senseless event, while Stubi made a full recovery and remained connected with the club in various capacities for many more years.
Having just graduated from Bucharest's Institutul de Cultura Fizica (ICF), Lovas Peter, known as Peter-Bacsi, became the club's head-coach in the late 1950's and instantly brought both competence and dedication to the program, with lots of results to show during the 1960's and early 1970's.
The 1960's - Olympic Participation in Swimming
Anchored by veterans Kelemen Laszlo, Papa Csopi and Laszlo Lina, ILSA's water polo team of the early 1960's also included Cinteanu Alexandru (Cinti), Bernstein Erno, Martin Botscheller (Botzi), Reuter Csiki, Koch Roderich (Coco), Kuliner Lica and Roth Andrei (Drishi). In the following years, the team was joined by a number of younger players, some of them former swimmers, such as Radu Bancila, Ladanyi Puki, Ladanyi Czuli, Somorai Peter, Goldstein Peter, Tibi Bratianu, Bohm Gyuri (Jean), Weiszpecher Ladislau (Csöcsös), Dan Manolescu, Adler Robert and Kugel Matei (Matyi), a student originally from Cluj.
The mid and late 1960's found ILSA's water polo team navigating between Divizia A and B, a condition that continued into the early 1970's.
For quite a few years, former goalie great Norman Zoli remained active as the coach of ILSA's youth water polo team (echipa de juniori).
With the swimming program in Lovas Peter's competent hands, ILSA's swimmers achieved once again national notoriety. Sprinter Robert Ladner (freestyle), Sala Codruta (butterfly and freestyle) and Baneth Ivan Peter (freestyle, both short and long distance) all won national championship titles, while Sala Florian, Codruta's brother, was a nationally ranked backstroker selected to be part of Romania's Lotul Sperantelor.
In a surprise move, Baneth Ivan quit swimming and joined the local modern pentathlon team. Within a year or two, Baneth became Romania's best in his new sport.
During the early 1960's, the highlight of the local swim meets were the breaststroke events, where a strong group of evenly-matched swimmers, namely Koch Roderich (Coco), Radu Bancila, Bohm Gyuri (Jean), Markovici Ladislau (Laci) and Koszta Ladislau (Laci) competed for local supremacy. First coached by Titi Schaed, Koszta Laci joined Lovas Peter's team (circa 1964) and soon became one of Romania's most dominant swimmers.
Sadly, Koszta Laci's ethnic Hungarian name never appeared in print, as the official Romanian sports media renamed him "Costa Vasile", a discriminatory practice not uncommon during those days.
Koszta Laci's races against Bucharest's Angel Sopterian were the most exciting events of the national finals during the mid and late 1960's. In order to prevail, Laci had to overcome not only a quality opponent who was employing a questionable dolphin kick at every turn, but biased Bucharest-based referees as well. The year 1968 found Koszta in peak form, as he broke his own 100 meter breaststroke national record with a time of 1:08:50, a record that remained unsurpassed for 18 years.
In 1968, Koszta Laci and coach Lovas Peter, represented Romania in the Olympic Games held in Mexico City, where Laci achieved a commendable 12th place finish in the 200 meter breaststroke event, his best result ever. Before the decade ended, Koszta added a few more Romanian national champion titles and made the European Championship semifinals.
In 1969, Koszta Laci was awarded the honorary title of "Maestru al Sportului".
Rolik Francisc (Feri) was ILSA's second most successful swimmer of the decade. Training with ferocity, Feri became one of the nation's best long distance freestyler and was selected to represent Romania in international meets, including the nationally televised dual swim meet pitting Romania against France. In 1969, just like his teammate Koszta Laci, Rolik Feri was awarded the title of "Maestru al Sportului", the country's second highest athletic honorary title.
Deac Alexandru's many years of hard work paid off in the late 1960's, when he was ranked among the best in the nation in the butterfly and individual medley events.
Swimming at Strandul Tineretului in Bucharest, Lovas Peter's 4x200 meter freestyle relay comprised of Rolik Carol (Karcsi), Bohm Gabi, Rolik Feri and Deac Alexandru took first place in Romania's National Championship in 1967 (Campionatul National de Juniori).
A review of the 1960's would not be complete without mentioning the following nationally-ranked swimmers: Gotter Gerhard, Eilhardt Karcsi, Pop Serban, Nemes Csilla, Doina Pentia, Mircea Pentia (Pif), Prodan Yvonne (Ciuciu), Zarie Eugen (Teddy), Adrian and Cornel Serdineantu, Ileana Bancila, Petri Norbert, Toffler Eva, Ulmeanu Marius, Ioana Baciu, Ghirisan Luci, Kuhn Alexandru, Kovacs Francisc (Schlepi) and Kun Gheorghe (Gyuri), one of the very few ILSA swimmers to have registered wins over Resita's Zeno Giurasa, the country's best under-eighteen freestyler at the time.
For a few years during the 1960's, Mociunski Stelian and Titi Schaed coached separate groups of swimmers that competed with some success against Lovas Peter's team.
ILSA's swimming and water polo teams received additional help from enthusiastic people such as Szuhanek Gyuri and Perl Miklos (Miki-Bacsi), whose duties included administration, travel arrangements and team support.
The 1970's started with Lovas Peter's startling defection to Germany. All that is known is that while being in Austria, Peter-Bacsi chose not to return to the country of his birth. He went on to settle in Freiburg, Germany, where he continued his coaching career until his untimely death in 2001.
The loss of ILSA's top swimming coach was not immediately felt. Competing in the newly-built indoor pool at Bucharest's Olympic Complex, ILSA's 4 x 100 meter medley relay took first place in Romania's International Indoor Championships, an annual event that featured swimmers from many European nations. This may have been, arguably, ILSA's best ever showing in an international meet. The relay was made up of Vladimir Belea (backstroke), Koszta Laci (breaststroke), Deac Alexandru (butterfly) and Rolik Feri (freestyle).
In 1971, Rolik Feri quit swimming and joined Baneth Ivan's modern pentathlon team. Virtually overnight, he established himself as one of the nation's best, made Romania's national team, then just like Baneth Ivan, defected to Germany in 1975.
The coaching position left vacant by Lovas Peter's defection was filled by Codruta Sala-Paraschiv, Peter-Bacsi's former swimming standout and a credentialed swimming coach herself. Initially assisted by Ioana Baciu-Heder and perennial ILSA enthusiast Szuhanek Gyuri, the swim team's coaching staff was later strengthened by the arrival of Doina Pentia, yet another former ILSA swimmer from Lovas Peter's team.
Continuing to train under Codruta Sala-Paraschiv, Rolik Karcsi developed into one of Romania's best swimmers of the period. Specializing in 100 and 200 meter butterfly, Rolik Karcsi won a couple of national indoor championships, finished second in the national outdoor finals and became a member of Romania's national team. His consistently good showing on both the national and international stage brought him the title of Maestru al Sportului, the same honorary title bestowed in 1969 upon his older brother, Feri. Sadly, the same period was marked by the tragic death of Rolik Gyuri, the youngest of the three Rolik Brothers and a talented swimmer himself.
By 1973, Koszta Laci, Deac Sandu and Rolik Karcsi were all retired from competitive swimming, and a new wave of younger swimmers took center stage, among them Doris Schneider, Liselotte Seidl, Traute Leutschaft, Karin Parutsch, Sanda Busuioc, Kun Andrei (Kun Gyuri's younger brother), Alfred Braunecker and Habetler Holger
During the early 1970's, the ILSA swimming pool was converted into an indoor facility, a move of questionable wisdom. While cold season training did benefit from the new enclosure, the facility was marred by poor ventilation and the absence of an air conditioning system. The opening of the vastly superior Circumvalatiunii indoor pool triggered an across-town migration of swimmers and coaches that essentially put an end to ILSA's swimming program.
The early 1970s marked the end of Adalbert Stanescu's coaching career. With former player Alexandru Cinteanu now at the helm, the water polo team continued to train and play at its historic location, with minimal success.
The 1980's - The Beginning of the End
Lacking quality players and without the benefit of good training conditions, the decline of the water polo team continued unchecked. With full support from the factory management, Coach Cinteanu looked for outside help, which arrived in the person of Manea Constantin (Costel), a water polo player from Bucharest, who relocated to Timisoara in 1982. Soon after his arrival and assisted by veteran player Weiszpecher Laci, Manea Costel initiated an intensive recruitment campaign among Timisoara's schools, an action that brought new blood to the club's youth program. In 1984, ILSA's "juniori" team, consisting almost exclusively of newly recruited players, managed to reconnect with the country's best by qualifying to the national finals. During the same period, Manea Costel doubled up as a player as well as Cinteanu's assistant coach and brainstorming partner.
Romania's declining standard of living brought about an unprecedented migration of established water polo players from other cities to Timisoara, a city perceived to have offered better living conditions than the other water polo centers of the country. The various rosters of the 1980's included locals Somorai Peter and Weiszpecher Laci, both with the team since the 1960s, Grecu Vasile, Toth Nandor, Dr.Caius Solovan, Friedman Alexandru, Ziegler Harald, Adrian Lederer (Ledi), Wachter Arthur, Ursu Mircea, Laiu Mihai, Pascariu, Apostol, Stingaciu, Kolhammer, Grada, Desliu, as well as quite a few transplants from Bucharest, Arad and Cluj, among them Tataru Emil, Dingu Ioan, Florincescu Florin, Spinu Doru, Huber, Colceriu, Sterpu Marin, Andreescu Nicolae, Todorut, Farcuta, Boros, and Adrian Munteanu, a member of Romania's national team.
Benefiting from this unexpected infusion of talent, the team once again moved up to Romania's top league and in 1983 managed to upset powerhouse Steaua Bucharest in a league game played in Oradea, undoubtedly Cinteanu's best result as a coach. The same year brought yet another change: hampered by his deteriorating health, Coach Cinteanu stepped down from his head coaching position, making room for newcomer Olac Iuliu, a former player for Romania's national team and Rapid Bucharest. With the new coach at its helm, the team managed to maintain its place in Romania's first division, but without distinguishing itself. In 1988 the head coaching duties went to Sterpu Marin.
In 1985, after fifteen years of physical deterioration, the building enclosing the pool underwent a major overhaul that included, among others, a revamped heating system that - ironically - remained unused due to fuel shortages.
The 1980's were ILSA's first ever decade without an active swimming program.
The 1990's - The End
The decade started with the passing of Cinteanu Alexandru, whose life had been closely associated with the club for over four decades, first as a player, then as a coach.
Little is known about the final years of ILSA's water polo program. Hurt by an acute lack of funds, the water polo team - the last surviving entity of a once thriving club - was officially disbanded in 1999.