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Jim Salmas was an active competitor for 45 years, competing in his first three-event water ski tournament in 1960 at age 35 and his last in 2006 at age 80. He won 22 National Championships and set 15 national records. He was credited with achieving the highest overall score at the Water Ski National Championships three times. He was a two-time member of the U.S. Veteran Water Ski Team. He was a tournament boat driver for 20 years in the 1970s and 1980s, and he was a water ski instructor in formal and informal settings throughout his career.