Stepping Up and Giving Back With the Davis Aquatic Masters

If you follow my blog, you may recall by blogs about the benefits of Masters swimming, especially for triathletes, and the rewarding experience of giving back to your sport, which builds and strengthens connections with your sport and your community. I practice what I preach, which is why I am excited to join the Board of Directors of the Davis Aquatic Masters (DAM).

Myself and Stuart Kahn, Head Coach of DAM

DAM is the largest US Masters Swimming (USMS) affiliated masters team in the US (USMS is the national governing body for adult swimming in the US). It boasts over 500 members of all ages and walks of life, ranging from beginning swimmers to world champions, triathletes, and former Olympians and, with nine practices a day, there is a workout for any schedule. In addition to swim workouts, DAM organizes the Lake Berryessa 1 and 2-Mile Open Water Swim every June. Last year it hosted the 1-Hour Postal Swim and this year the Lake Berryessa swim will the 1-mile open water USMS national championship. In addition to workouts and competition, DAM donates to charitable causes in the Davis area. This year it established the Steve Carlson Memorial Fund to help college students attend national championship swim meets. DAM has a well-deserved reputation for excellence and, in 2011, it was the USMS Club of the Year in 2011.

In addition to its community and its members, DAM’s excellence is built on its coaching. The team’s first coach, Dave Scott, is a legend in the world of triathlon. Later, Mike Collins won USMS Coach of the year.  DAM’s present head coach, Stuart Kahn, came on as head coach in 2008. He won the USMS Kerry O’Brien Coaching Award (which recognizes passion and dedication in coaching), in 2010 and in 2012 he was recognized as USMS Coach of the Year.

Myself, Stu, and Gloria on New Year’s Eve, or more accurately New Year’s Day since it was 1:30 AM, after the One Hour Postal Swim on January 1, 2013.

I first joined DAM when I moved to Davis as a college freshman over 20 years ago. I grew up a swimmer, but since there were no scholarship opportunities at the time for UC Davis swimming, chose to join DAM instead. DAM was a fixture in my life for the next 12 years, throughout undergrad, law school, and the years in between. Even during the Bar exam I showed up for swim practice every morning. When I moved back to Sacramento, after seven years in Chico, I rejoined DAM and it was like coming back home. My wife (Dr. G) soon joined. The team and coaches warmly welcomed her and she went from a triathlete who tolerated swimming to a triathlete who really enjoyed swimming. To no surprise, her swimming improved substantially.

DAM Fast at the Ironman World Championship in Kona. Naturally!

DAM is a perfect example of what an adult community sport and recreation program should strive to be and strive to achieve. My experience with DAM was the template in my mind when I went on to form the Chico Triathlon Club. of course, DAM still has its challenges. Budgeting and financial planning is always a concern, as with any nonprofit, planning the Lake Berryessa Open Water Swim is a year-round endeavor, and the City’s aging aquatic facilities, which are shared with many other user groups, are aging and increasingly less reliable. The City recognizes the need for a 50-meter pool, but we need to keep our foot on the gas if we ever want to see it.

To make my time on the Board even more special, DAM celebrates its 40th anniversary. DAM is a great organization and I am proud to be a formal part of it, especially now.

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