News and Happenings

Welcome to Our new website has been restructured and redesigned to better serve our members. Note that the home page has two entries to the site. One for those just learning about Masters Swimming and one that gives members direct access to what they're looking for.

This News and Happenings page is the place to read about our stories. We welcome contributions from members and invite you to contribute articles, experiences, photos and videos that would be interest to all of our members.

Why Pacific Masters has a Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Phyllis Quinn
Chair, Pacific Masters

As the largest LMSC in U.S. Masters Swimming, Pacific Masters may also be the most diverse. Yet, we are one of only six LMSCs that has a Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Why, of all the LMSCs across the country, did we think Diversity & Inclusion was important enough to create a subcommittee?

Pacific Masters is constantly working to improve our operations, including understanding how other organizations are embracing Diversity & Inclusion. As Diversity & Inclusion has increasingly become a focal point for any organization, Pacific Masters has made it a part of our own structure. It’s even become integral to our vision statement - Pacific Masters envisions a diverse swimming community embracing inclusivity and an environment in which individuals of all backgrounds feel welcome and safe in U.S. Masters Swimming activities.

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Donita Flecker, coach of Sebastopol Masters Aquatic Club, used her interest in Diversity & Inclusion to gain insight into what USMS and other LMSC’c are doing in this area, and help make us aware of the importance of having a D&I committee to help Pacific Masters embrace the diverse communities among our members.

My own personal journey, which I am sure mirrors some of your own experiences, reflects how my life’s paths impacted my understanding of this important subject. I grew up in Ohio and Virginia. I moved from Richmond, Virginia (the capital of the South) to Honolulu, Hawaii. This was an insightful period for me as I was suddenly experiencing being a minority. When I moved to San Francisco I swam at Garfield pool for a few years and then at USF. When the Olympic Club opened its membership to women, I was asked to join. Through all of these experiences I was mostly welcomed, but each club meant adjusting to a different group of swimmers – and they no doubt had to adjust to me. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a great diversity of swimmers and learned much about each of these communities. My exposure to, and relationships with, a diversity of swimmers has made me a better teammate, Pacific LMSC Chair, and person.

That’s what I want for all members of Pacific Masters – a rich experience that goes beyond the workouts and the swim meets. The Diversity & Inclusion Committee, in concert with our other committees, will work to realize Pacific Masters’ vision.

Phyllis Quinn, Pacific Masters Chair with Vicki Shu, Diversity & Inclusion Commitee Chair

Swimming Couples
Introducing Julie & Ray Bennet

Rebecca Friedlander

Q) Tell us about yourselves.
Ray and I have been together for 28 years. We met while working for a wildland firefighting hotshot crew. We have two kids, my youngest is still swimming with the Carson Tigersharks. We started swimming in the Masters group because it was at the same time as my son’s practice. We had no formal swim training outside of lessons as kids and could barely swim 25 yards. That was seven years ago. We will be forever grateful to Coach Julie who taught our family to swim. We are active in the club. I am a board member and Ray is part of the setup crew for swim meets. Swimming and being a part of a team has provided an abundance of great life lessons for our family.

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Q) Where did your love of open water come from?
A couple of years ago, our masters group started to swim “open water” in the pool. Coach pulled out large buoys and we learned how to turn, swim as a pod, and about the hazards of swimming with no lane lines. It was a lot of fun and a great introduction to open water swimming. We were hooked.

Q) What do you like most about open water swimming?
Living in the Lake Tahoe/Donner Lake area, we’ve enjoyed many summer days open water swimming. It’s challenging and can initially be intimidating. I find getting into a rhythm and enjoying the beautiful world around you can settle the nerves. Swimming open water with family and friends is a must. The sense of accomplishment is rewarding. Who doesn't love fresh air and a challenge?

Q) What’s your favorite open water swim? Here, at home, we have some of the best locations for open water swimming. Donner Lake and Lake Tahoe offer excellent venues. You just have to be prepared for cooler water in those early summer months!

Q) How have you supported others to get involved or meet their dreams in open water?
I am not a big competitor when it comes to swimming. I swim just because it is fun. I have been Ray’s training partner for a couple of summers. We’ve learned a few tricks and tips for success and share with others what we have learned. Last summer our training partners expanded to a large portion of our “regulars” Masters group. Practices had a purpose besides improving stroke technique and fitness. We prepared as a group and benefited from being there together.

Q) What would you say to someone who wants to get into open water swimming?
Open water swims can be overwhelming, especially when you’re looking across to the other side of the lake. There are no walls, no bottom of the pool lines (you can’t always see the bottom!) and the water is colder than the pool. Educating ourselves and sharing experiences helped us try it. The internet is a great resource. We found videos of events, instructional-how-to, blogs, and gear recommendations. Go with friends that you trust, set a duration or objective for the swim. Dress appropriately and safely. I like to have a brightly colored insulated cap, mirrored goggles, and a personal buoy. Lastly, be consistent with swimming so you are prepared and able to enjoy the swim. Ray and I are not very fast swimmers. We started open water swimming in our 40s and50s. If we can swim in open water, you can too!

Too Young and Too Early

Remembering George Ridout

Nancy Ridout has been a seminal part of Masters Swimming since the organization’s beginnings. As the administrator for Pacific Masters for over 20 years, Nancy was a friend, colleague and fierce competitor to many of our members. We are saddened to learn of her husband George’s recent passing from Parkinson’s Disease. While Nancy was in the pool, George could be found running. He was an accomplished runner, having completed 26 marathons, many under 3 hours. He was also an avid birder having identified over 3,000 species during travels around the world. George was also an ardent supporter of Nancy’s swimming career, both in and out of the pool.

George studied at Yale, U.C. Berkeley and the University of San Francisco while Nancy was at the University of Michigan. They connected while both attended Union Theological Seminary in New York. They settled in Marin County where George began his career with the San Rafael High School District, serving as teacher, vice-principal, and principal at San Rafael, Terra Linda and Madrone high schools.

George and Nancy were married for 57 years and had two sons, Joseph and Joshua.  Our entire swimming community expresses our condolences to Nancy and her family.

A Celebration of Life will be held for George on Sunday, February 26th, at the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael, Fifth Avenue and E Street, at 2pm.

About Nancy

For the Clamans, it's a Family Affair

by Kate Claman

This year, the Claman household made the USMS virtual hour swim a family affair. For the first time since my mom joined Tamalpais Aquatic Masters in 1994, at which point she was pregnant with my older brother, all four of us are participating. I was the most likely hold-out. Living in New York, opportunities to swim are few and far between, but when asked if I would participate, I responded with a resounding "Yes!" If the rest of my family had committed, I was happy to join them. This is the first time that TAM swimmers will complete their swims in the new fabulous Marin Academy pool. After years of swimming, counting, and timing at our old, dinky pool, a place that never the less holds myriad wonderful memories despite its quirks, the team finally has a pool to match the dedication and excitement of both its longtime members and newest additions.

As I completed my swim, I found myself both exhausted and overjoyed. While my limbs protested the fact that I'd only "trained" for the swim for ten days, I was so grateful for the opportunity to just swim. An hour is long, but purposefully so. It provides moments of excitement, others of peace and meditation, and even more opportunities to challenge yourself. I cherished each and every one this morning, and upon finishing, rediscovered the sense of triumph that comes from finishing a difficult event.

So, for those who are eagerly (or perhaps anxiously) anticipating their swim and those who are not sure about participating in the hour, let me say: dive right in! Swim for your family, your coach, your teammates, but especially for yourself. Take each moment as it comes, let the water guide you, and smile, grunt, and push your way through it—you'll be happy you did!

Note: There’s just a few days left to complete this year’s Virtual Hour Swim. Now’s the time to just do it!

The whole Claman family (Anne, David, Alex, and Kate) completed this year’s Virtual Hour Swim. Seen here in their holiday workout attire.

From the Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Are you interested in helping Pacific Masters grow in a way that reflects the rich diversity of our region? If so, the Pacific Masters Diversity & Inclusion Committee invites you to join us! We meet once a month, during which time, we decide on, and work towards, SMART goals, and have enriching discussions about creating welcoming and safe environments for all people to enjoy masters swimming.

Our accomplishments in our first year (2022) include:

  • Drafting a vision statement for Pacific LMSC that unanimously passed: Pacific Masters envisions a diverse swimming community embracing inclusivity and an environment in which individuals of all backgrounds feel welcome and safe in USMS activities.
  • Hosting a webinar on how to use correct pronouns: Watch it here.
  • Drafting a membership survey that will provide baseline information on how we are doing as an LMSC to foster inclusivity. We at Pacific Masters Swimming are cognizant of our members' time and will strive to minimize survey requests to only survey for those things which we feel are important to inform direction and growth for our swimming community.

In 2023, we will work closely with other committees to roll out the survey and then analyze the data to help inform Pacific LMSC strategies and programs.

Interested? Please contact Vicki Shu at

USMS Stroke Development Clinic

The USMS Stroke Development Clinic, also known as USMS Clinic Course for Coaches, was held at City College, San Francisco, December 3 and 4. It was packed with information and was well-attended. If you missed it, don’t worry! Happily, USMS Clinics and Courses are planning to return in September 2023. Mark your calendars!

These clinics are important tools in helping pool communities thrive. Through the comprehensive curricula, local committees can ensure that their coaches are well prepared to work with swimmers of all age groups and experience levels, allowing more people to enjoy the sport. The attendees received guidance from two of the most knowledgeable and experienced mentors in the field, Bill Brenner and Mel Goldstein.

Carol Nip, Coach Albany Armada Masters, and Ian King, Walnut Creek Masters swimmer, have thoughtfully written about the Clinics from both a Coach's and a participant's point of view. Click to read more:
Carol's Perspective
Ian's Perspective

USMS Stroke Development Clinic – a Participant’s Perspective

By Ian King, Walnut Creek Masters swimmer

Sunday, December 4th, started with my alarm going off way too early for a weekend morning.  Threw on some sweats, grabbed my swim bag and a BIG cup of coffee then headed over to City College of San Francisco for the USMS Stroke Development Clinic.  As I drove from the East Bay in the pre-dawn hours, I wondered what the day had in store for me.  

Little did I know the amazing experience that would be literally splashed in my face!
The clinic started off with a brief coaches’ introduction starting with Bill Brenner, USMS Senior Director for Club and Coach Development and longtime Master’s coach/contributor, Mel Goldstein.  Eight other coaches joined Bill and Mel on deck as they became certified in the Stroke Development curriculum and execution.  

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With introductions over, 48 of us willing victims (I mean swimmers) jumped into the water to begin a morning of extensive drills covering all four strokes.  For this humble and grateful athlete, it was terrific to pull back the speed and put the focus on stroke technique.  Many of the drills we did were quite familiar, but several were ones I had never done before.  Just goes to show you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!  

In addition to the drills, the encouragement, support and feedback from the coaches on deck was simply tremendous.  With a wide variety of participant swim skills and experience, the coaches were patient yet diligent as they explained the drills along with the concepts behind those drills and the impact on the stroke being executed.
Now I can’t speak for all the participants that attended (although….my guess…we’re all in the same pool on this) the clinic was an outstanding experience and time well spent!  I left with a renewed sense of motivation and anxious to put my new technique knowledge to use.  I am also reminded that these kinds of opportunities offered through Pacific Masters and USMS are a great way of making the most of my swimming and building a community to connect with/ and share in. And maybe, just maybe, I might be able to shave a tiny bit of time off my next race!

Coaches Speak

We took the opportunity to let our coaches speak about the key roles they play in Masters Swimming.

Created and produced by videographer Dakota Lim at the 2022 LCM Championships, this video captures six Pacific Masters coaches as they describe what they do, the dynamics of their relationships with their swimmers, and where they derive their greatest satisfaction from coaching Masters.

Thanks to Dakota for giving us a coaches-eye view of their very special corner of our swimming world.

Play Video