News and Stories

Welcome to This News and Stories page is the place to read our stories. We welcome you contributions - articles, experiences, photos and videos that would be interest to all of our members.

2023 USMS Annual Meeting

Each September, United States Masters Swimming gathers representatives from throughout its membership, to conduct the organization's business. While we have been professionally managed for almost 20 years, there are elements of running USMS that are the purview of delegates from the nation's 52 Local Masters Swimming Committees (LMSC).

The 2023 USMS Annual Meeting was held in Houston, Texas. This was the first in-person meeting since covid and included both both in-person and virtual delegates. Pacific LMSC, with the most members, had the largest contingent with 32 delegates, 19 in-person and 13 virtual. The proceedings included the election of new officers. Pacific’s Peter Guadagni turned over the gavel after four successful and challenging years as USMS President. Delegates also reviewed and voted on new rules and had the opportunity to discuss a range of issues important to conducting USMS business.

The annual meeting takes time to recognize the crucial contributions of volunteers from throughout the country. Volunteers are the life blood of the organization and each year USMS recognizes their extraordinary commitment.

It was most fun viewing the video presentation of the awards ceremony where six Pacific members and a Pacific Club are recognized for their outstanding contributions.

Tamalpais Aquatic Masters (TAM) was recognized as the USMS Club of the Year. view (starts at 10:29)

John King (WCM) received the Official of the Year award. (not in video)

Ali Hall (SNM) won the Open Water Service Award. view (starts at 15:39)

And 4 of our members were given Dorothy Donnelly Service Awards.

  • David Brancamp (SNM) (starts at 0:43)
  • Kim Elsbach (GFDD) view: (starts at 2:46)
  • Stu Kahn (DAM) view: (starts at 4:00)
  • Laura Shope (EDSB) view (starts at 5:39)

Pacific Masters is grateful for these and all of our volunteers who contribute and thank them for their time and commitment.

You can watch the entire House of Delegates proceedings here: video-REVISED.mp4?rlkey=c5r1a377ssehlhlbivyylhki1&dl=0

Pacific Masters Swimming is a vibrant community with many swimmers and non-swimmers who enjoy officiating, organizing or supporting the community in other ways. At our Annual Meeting, we recognize those who participate or contribute in an exceptional fashion. We convey:

Pacific’s Tamalpais Aquatic Masters selected as the USMS 2023 Club of the Year

Service Awards

Do you know a Pacific Masters member that has gone above and beyond this past year? Nominations are open for our 2023 Service awards!

Pacific Masters Swimming is a vibrant community with many swimmers and non-swimmers who enjoy officiating, organizing or supporting the community in other ways. At our Annual Meeting, we recognize those who participate or contribute in an exceptional fashion. We convey:

  • Nancy Ridout Award for Distinguished Service
  • Contributor of the Year Award
  • Personal Achievement Awards
  • Appreciation Awards
  • Peggy Lucchesi Award

See the section 101.8 of our Administrative Handbook for details on each award. To help with recall, past award winners are here. Who do you know that is deserving? Please think about this and sendnominations to our Chair by October 2nd.

Awards waiting to be presented at Pacific's Annual Celebration and Meeting


In odd numbered years Pacific Masters is required to hold elections for our Pacific Masters officers at our annual meeting. This year we will hold our elections at our Annual Celebration and Meeting on November 12, 2023. Per our BYLAWS, a nominating subcommittee is formed and presents a list of at least one nominee for each office at the Pacific Masters Committee meeting prior to the Annual Meeting, Our bylaws also allow for additional nominations.

The 2023 Pacific Masters nominating subcommittee will present this year's candidates at our September 20, 2023 monthly meeting. The candidates will also be posted on our website on September 18 and listed in the next enews UPDATE published October 2.

If, after the publication of our 2023 candidates, a Pacific Masters member wishes to make an additional nomination for one of the elected positions, they may do so as a floor nomination at the Annual Meeting following the guidelines listed in the BYLAWS (reproduced below) and present them to the chair onsite at the beginning of the Annual Meeting activities (8 am, November 12). While these floor nominations are allowed per our bylaws, we encourage interested candidates to contact the chair ASAP so that we can prepare and run a smooth election.

103.5.5.D. Additional nominees shall be accepted at the Annual Meeting upon nomination by two (2) individual members of Pacific Masters Swimming and written consent of the nominee(s).

Nancy Ridout announcing the candidates

Lake Berryessa Open Water Swims

Davis Aquatic Masters hosted the inaugural open water swim of the 2023 season at beautiful Lake Berryessa in Napa County. After a few years of covid interruptions, draught conditions, and not such great weather, this year’s event was near perfect. After 39 years of hosting their swim, Davis has it down to a science. Coupled with beautiful weather, ideal water temperature and the team's well-oiled management of all aspects of the races, the swim came off without a hitch.

The 2-mile race was reconfigured as two circuits of a one-mile course, a format that made the distance seem much more forgiving. It was followed by the one-mile race. Over 500 participants chose either the 1- or 2-mile courses, or both. Another change was men and women swimming together, with starting waves organized by submitted mile swim times. The top 3 finishers in each age group of each distance came away with beautiful logo emblazoned towels.

Stay tuned for Pacific's next open water event, the Santa Cruz Open Water Weekend July 29-30.

Find this year's Berryessa results here:

View of the course
Safety briefing
Headed to the start line
Sprint to the Finish

Largest Nationals Championships Ever

Panorama of Woollett Aquatic Center

Any review of the 2023 USMS Spring Nationals must begin with accolades for the quality of the competitors and the competition. Nearly 2,500 swimmers made more than 10,000 splashes over the 4-day event. A large contingent of Olympians, including Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin and Jenny Thompson, a great number of younger athletes (18 through 29), throngs of Masters veterans, including the amazing 102-year-old Maureen Kornfeld, brought their A games to the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine California.

Woollett Center, a complex of two 50-meter stadium pools, a 10 lane 25-yard warmup pool and the attendant support facilities, is one of the most complete in the country. Yet with 2500 athletes, plus an army of officials, friends, families and others, the complex was stretched to its limits. The weather was cooperative through long days of racing.

To manage the largest attendance in Championship history, entrants were limited to 5 events. Men and women swam concurrently in the separate pools, 10 lanes to a heat. While this added to the efficiency of the meet, it meant teammates and coaches were challenged to see swims when start times conflicted. This led many to observe what felt like two separate meets.

USMS Championships are truly celebrations of our sport with inspiring performances, the chance to gauge our current swimming aptitude, reunions of lifelong friends, and exploration of new places. Seeing old friends and making new ones is part of the allure. The sea of team tents had an ambiance somewhere between Burning Man and a homeless encampment.

Pacific Masters was well represented both in number of entrants and records set. Heidi George, Benjamín Cono, Kristin Jaffe, Tracie Granger and Alison Zamanian each set a new national mark, while Laura Val and the Olympic Club 25+ relay added two more apiece. The Olympic Cub scored over 1,600 points to win the overall team competition.

To see all of the Championship results: 2023 Spring Nationals Results and Records | U.S. Masters Swimming (

Readying for relays
Team tent city
They're off

Pacific Masters 2023 SCY Championships

Pacific Masters members, along with our dedicated officials, volunteers, and friends of swimming, made their way to Morgan Hill for our annual Short Course Yards Championships. Crisp, cold mornings gave way to sunny afternoons and the wonderfully accommodating Morgan Hills Aquatic Center was the place to be last weekend. 540 swimmers completed 2438 splashes. Meet Results

We took the opportunity to break for a ceremony to honor Pacific's 2022 Age Group Swimmers of the Year.  The male and female with the most points in each age group, based on our comprehensive ranking system were recognized for their swimming prowess. 2022 Point standings

The ceremony also paid tribute to the Laura Val Swimmers of the Year, awarded to the Pacific members who distinguished themselves through their excellence in both their point totals, and other competitive achievements. Alison Zamanian was the women’s winner with Paul Frentsos and Richard Burns co- awardees of the men's honor. Swimmer of the Year

Sunday afternoon, while swimming in the last heat of the men's 50 freestyle, 89-year-old Bill Grohe suffered a heart attack. Despite rapid response from the timers, guards, and EMTs, Bill sadly did not survive. The break in the competition to attend to Bill was a sobering moment.

After meeting with coaches, and facility personnel, a decision was made to cancel the rest of the meet. With two individual events and a relay pending, the tally of the final results are under review.

Read More Tribute to Bill Grohe

Sky Berry-Weiss
Recreation Sports Manager
University of San Francisco

I want to start off by thanking you and your entire Pacific Masters staff for taking the utmost care of Bill yesterday when he had a medical emergency in the water. We are so thankful for the quick reaction of the swimmers and officials to help Bill as fast as possible. It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce that Bill passed away yesterday.

We know that Bill has had a long history with USMS and knew quite literally almost everyone there. I have sent this message out to our team and if you could circulate something to his friends and swimming family in Pacific Masters, we would be extremely grateful:

At the Pacific SCY Championship today in Morgan Hill, many of us witnessed fellow Masters swimmers rescuing our teammate, Bill Grohe, while swimming the 50 Free.  It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Bill passed away. Bill dedicated over 20 years of his life to the USF Masters Swim Team. His impact on the sport and our USF Masters team will not be forgotten as his love for swimming was contagious to all those who knew him.

Bill was a force to be reckoned with in the swimming world, having competed in over 1,000 swims at USMS Pacific, Nationals, and Worlds. He set a standard of excellence that inspired generations of swimmers. Dating back to 2001, Bill's over 30 team records spans from age 70 to well into his most recent 85-89 age group.

Bill was more than a lifelong competitive swimmer and record holder. He was a friend, a mentor, and a source of inspiration to everyone he met. He embodied the spirit of Masters Swimming and his legacy will live on through all the lives he touched. We extend our deepest sympathies to Bill's family and his swimming friends during this difficult time.

Rest in Peace Bill.

Pacific LMSC Short Course Yard Championships in Morgan Hills
Pacific Master Age Group Swimmers of the Year
Teams from throughout Pacific LMSC gathered in Morgan Hills for the Short Course Yard Championships

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.  

Read More

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