On the Road (November-December 2010)
by, November 1st, 2010 at 12:00 AM (411 Views)
This fall, I had the extreme good fortune to travel and meet USMS members and coaches in the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding communities. Each club has a unique flavor and each coach a different style. All were amazing. In speaking with the coaches and swimmers, I learned more about what makes our sport so special. During November, look for video interviews with swimmers and coaches from these clubs on our YouTube channel, at youtube.com/USMastersSwimming.
First stop was the Marin Pirates Masters, with Head Coach Cokie Lepinski and Assistant Coach Susie Powell. They brought a basket of Finis Tempo Trainers to the pool and we did the entire workout with them. The kick sets left my legs feeling quite rubbery, but the enthusiasm level was palpable and infectious—we had a great time.
The next day was with the Los Altos Mountain View Masters. Coach Jose Bonpua had both age group and Masters in the pool. While I swam in a designated Masters lane, he kept a sharp eye on me. When I thought he wasn’t looking and backed off a little, he encouraged me to drop to an interval I often avoid at my home pool. His attention made me feel like one of the kids, which, at 46, is a lot of fun.
Courtside Club, a tennis and sports resort in Los Gatos, has its own registered USMS club. Their coach, Dave Meck, normally coaches age groupers in Santa Clara, but zips over to Courtside to coach Masters as well. Most of the swimmers there don’t compete in meets, but their solid commitment to fitness, fun and their coach was evident.
The Strawberry Canyon Aquatic Masters practice at Cal Berkeley, whose aquatics director, Danksi Perez, also swims on the team. She spoke of a sense of community in the swimming world and how much having a team and structured practices means to her. SCAM had lanes to accommodate every level of swimmer, with printed workouts for each lane and Assistant Coach Jeremy Cohen manning the deck.
Next stop was inland, due east. At Davis Aquatic Masters, I arrived just in time to find out that it was sprint backstroke week there—anathema to a distance breaststroker—but I persevered and learned more about the stroke I love to hate. Head Coach Stu Kahn welcomed his group with a video of Aaron Peirsol looped on a poolside TV cart, and instructions on what to pay attention to in the video and in the water during the main set.
Lastly, another Marin County team, North Bay Aquatics, welcomed me to their Saturday morning workout at a local high school. Assistant Coach Michael Sugrue kept me honest as my stroke fell apart on a descending set that I started too quickly.
Special thanks to all the coaches and swimmers I met for embodying the spirit of USMS and providing great Masters swimming experiences in their communities.