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.

2022 Pacific Masters Celebration and Meeting

This year’s Pacific Masters Annual Celebration and Meeting was once again successfully
conducted virtually. Two dynamic feature presentations by our keynote speakers helped us celebrate what we love about swimming. Jeff Commings and Suzanne Heim-Bowen shared their experiences and insights. 

The meeting was also the chance to honor the amazing volunteers who keep our organization running on all cylinders. Pacific Masters sincerely thanks and heartily congratulates our 2022 Service Award Winners.

• Bill McCracken: Nancy Ridout Distinguished Service Award
• Linda Hepworth: Contributor of the Year
• David Brancamp, Shari Cruse, Missy Hunter, Jenn Hwang, Kate Matwychuk, Vicki
Shu, Chris Wagner: In Appreciation Award
• Cornelia Bleul-Gohlke: Kimberly Elsbach Personal Achievement Award
• Sharlene Van Boer: Peggy Lucchesi Award

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Our Speakers

Jeff Commings is well known to the Masters Swimming community having distinguished himself as an outstanding competitor, highly successful coach, prolific author on all things swimming and as an ambassador for our sport. Suzanne Heim Bowen is a long-time member of Pacific Masters, known for her open water and long-distance prowess. 

Jeff told his personal story of being a black, openly gay swimmer navigating the world of competitive swimming and the lessons he’s learned through swimming that have helped him live confidently, successfully and become an icon in our sport.

Suzanne is an open water swimming virtuoso. Her accomplishments in open water and long-distance swimming have earned her a place in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Open Water Swimmer. Suzanne vividly described the challenges of endurance swimming in challenging and exotic venues, from the San Francisco Bay to the English Channel and beyond.

The popular Wheel of Prizes yielded many winners who came away with Sports Basement and Starbucks gift cards, Finis swimming equipment , See Her Swim swimware and P2life performance packages.
We are hopeful that the 2023 meeting will be a return to an in-person gathering.

Age Group Swimmer of the Year Standings

Whether workout performances or results of competition swims, our times are a measure of the state of our swimming. In gauging our progress, or how well we’re staving off the aging process, our times are our metric for how we’re doing, both against ourselves and our peers.

Pacific Masters and USMS are comprehensive resources for tracking our performances. Track My Results on the USMS website lists your times for every race you’ve ever swum in a meet, and Pacific’s Age Group Standings provides rankings of all competitors within each age group.

Pacific’s Age Group Swimmer of the Year Award dates from 1981. Each year, based on a scoring system of placements in pool and open water events, Pacific recognizes the top three swimmers in each age group, men and women. The highest point total receives the Age Group Swimmer of the Year (AGSOTY) for their age group. The highest-ranking man and woman from all age groups is eligible for the Laura Val Swimmer on the Year award.

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Before computerization, the arduous job of tracking the swims of thousands of swimmers fell to our administrators, Nancy Ridout and Charlene O’Brien. This process involved manually computing points for all contending swimmers.

In 2015, programmer and volunteer extraordinaire, Bob Upshaw developed a complex computer program to automate the process. To test its validity, Charlene and Bob independently computed the 2015 SOTY points. With some fine tuning they aligned the process to assure its accuracy. The program automatically extracts information from the Pacific masters and USMS databases.

With this automation framework in place to identify the top male and female competitors Bob Upshaw, Bob Anderson and John Morales expanded the program to allocate points to all qualifying swimmers and created web-based standings which are updated throughout the year.

Before this new program was introduced in 2016, manually computed results were announced at the end of the year. Pacific now provides current point standings as competition results are finalized.
Worksheet used by Nancy and Charlene to compute points for a single swimmer.

Walnut Creek Was the Place To Be

In perfect summerlike weather, Walnut Creek Masters hosted the 2022 Kerry O'Brien Pacific Masters Short Course Meters Championships. As Pacific Master's only short course meters meet of the year, over 400 participants registered for the 3-day event. Meet director Gordon Bell along with officials, a host of dedicated volunteers, and announcer Dave Wierdsma kept the meet running especially smooth.


Validating Marcia's Enthusiastic Masters of Oakland receipt of the 2021 USMS Club of the Year award, and the club's focus on competition as a part of their program, MEMO swam away with the championship title. With 85 members entered, MEMO scored 9343 points. Home club Walnut Creek placed 2nd with 89 members entered and 6542 points and Davis Masters finished in 3rd place with 26 members entered and 2716 points.

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Records Galore

Demonstrating why our Outstanding Swimmer of the Year award is named after Laura Val (70-75), she finished the meet with 8 new FINA world records in the 50,100, and 200 free, 50 fly and 50 back and the 100IM. She added two more world records in the 280 plus mixed relays with help from her Tamalpais teammates, Rich Burns, Martha Joyce, and Alan Bernard.

Danielle Herrmann (35-39) of Clovis set 3 world records in the 50 and 100 breast and 50 fly, and 3 national records in the 200 breast, 50 fly, and 100 IM. Brandon Fischer (30-34), unattached, established 3 national records in the 50, 100, and 200 breast and Ruth Shaps (75-79) of MAM broke the 1500 free national record. Another Tam quartet including Mary Alexander, Kristin Jaffe, Nancy Ridout, and Linda Shoenberger set national records in the 200 and 800 free relays. Registrar Chris Ottati also reports there were 57 Pacific Masters records broken.

Sad News

In an unfortunate event, we had a swimmer with a critical medical emergency at the end of a race. Care was given by qualified masters swimmers and the facility staff before being transported to the local hospital. The entire LMSC sends our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

A special thanks to Walnut Creek Masters for once again hosting this wonderful event. In a time when meet hosts are becoming harder to find, Walnut Creek deserves special credit.

Olympian at the Olympic Club

At a recent Olympic Club clinic, Olympic Gold Medalist Ryan Murphy guided Pacific Masters swimmers in perfecting their backstroke.

Ryan competed in the last two Olympic games - 2016 and 2020 where he won four gold medals. He is currently the world champion in the 200 backstroke. On deck and in the water Ryan helped our swimmers understand how to use full body connection to create maximum power in their stroke. After the pool sessions, Ryan signed autographs, conducted a Q&A session, and told about his swimming journeys. He explained that while he and his teammates are Olympic caliber athletes, they all started in age-group swimming and progressed through commitment and hard work.

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"It was an honor and privilege to work alongside such a talented swimmer, watching him teach our swimmers new and helpful tips that will surely improve their swimming. Ryan had a personal way of working with the swimmers." said The Olympic Club Coach Tyler Long. Junior Aquatics Manager, Mike Keck praised Murphy and observed, "It amazing to watch this high-level athlete share information and skills that were immediately relevant to everyone, regardless of age." And Phyllis Quinn, President of Pacific Masters Swimming said, "It was a great clinic for Master swimmers of all abilities. Everyone got first hand tips about backstroke, training and racing."

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