My Amazing Masters Journey

by Graham Balch

I’m not a swimmer. When I decided to do my first triathlon I had a lot of anxiety about whether I could do the swim part.

While I knew how to swim growing up, it was not at a level that would allow me to enter a serious competition. When I searched for a way to learn how to really swim and do swim training I was very fortunate to have found Tam Masters. Initially I was nervous. No, the first day I showed up to try swimming with Tam Masters, I was scared.

But all of that changed when I met Coach Marie and the team. EVERYONE was incredibly welcoming and supportive. The first day I swam 300 yards and was exhausted. But with lots of coaching on technique and not a small amount of encouragement from Coach Marie, I gradually got better. I began to believe and see that I could do it, I could really swim.

Now, two years later, I have swum 3400 yards in an hour. Whoa! In my first triathlon, I was 150th in the swim. In the same race a year later, I was 69th in the swim. In my last triathlon, a half ironman, I finished 21st in the swim on my way to a second place finish in my age group. Though I still have a long way to go and my stroke needs more improvement, I feel I can say I am a swimmer.

It is hard to become a good swimmer without good coaching. I read in a triathlon training book, which said that getting better at swimming is more like getting better at golf than running because of the high importance of technique. If you want to learn how to swim, consider joining Tam Masters. If you do, it is amazing what you could accomplish with the support of the team and Coach Marie.

A Most Inspiring Swim!!

Chris Foote, a longtime TAM member and friend, is smiling after completing her 2016 One Hour Swim!! Like every other year she held a steady pace, streamlined and kicked off of the walls while holding her stroke together. What is quite different this year though, is that Chris has breast cancer and just finished 5 months of chemotherapy sessions several weeks ago. She continued to swim several times a week during treatment, as it made her feel better. Ever loyal to TAM, Chris wanted to get her swim in before she undergoes surgery at the end of this month, which will be followed by radiation. Her husband John swam next to her during the last 4 laps. Chris finished many yards ahead of what she thought she would do! We are all in awe of her courage, bravery and strength as she goes through this health battle. We continue to send her positive thoughts for her surgery, radiation and a complete recovery and invite everyone else to do so as well. You are truly awesome Chris!!

Triumphant Chris
photo by Anne Claman

Work Your Tail Off Award

Each year TAM honors the person(s) who have demonstrated an inordinate work and conscientiousness in their swimming pursuits. The 2015 awards were presented at the TAM Holiday Party. Martha Olsen and Gary Parlapiano were this year’s recipients. Gary demonstrated renewed intensity and commitment to training after returning from years of dealing with medical issues. Martha reignited her interest in competition and trained to meet the challenges of racing again. Congratulations to Gary and Martha.

Martha, Marie and Gary

Tam Celebrates the Holidays

Phil and Kayleen outdid themselves hosting the TAM Holiday Party. Their beautiful home was the perfect venue for this team gathering. It was also a chance to celebrate Ken’s birthday which conveniently fell on the same day as the party.

Southern California Adventure

Nancy, Linda, Rich and Laura competed in the Southern Pacific Short Course Meter Championships held December 4‐6 at the La Mirada Aquatic Center. The facilities were great, the weather near perfect for outdoors in December. Laura and Rich were age group high point winners, each having placed first in all 6 of their events. Results http://www.swimphone.com/mobile/meets/event_order.cfm?smid=6131

Celebrating Another Record

In one of her last swims in the 60-64 age group, Laura set a world record in the 200 scm backstroke, beating her existing time of 2:41.71 set 3 years ago. Her new time – 2:40.04.

We’d like to report that the balloons were to honor her great swim. Actually, they had just dropped from the ceiling in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the pool in Federal Way, Washington.

Laura turns 65 January 1st for FINA meters competition.

Setting Relay Records

Every 10 years, Nancy, Ken, Laura and Rich’s ages add up to exactly the number of years that puts them at the bottom of a new relay age group. 2015 was the year they cumulatively turned 280. They began their assault on the records in a special competition hosted by the Stanford Masters. It seems four of their swimmers wanted a chance at a record in the 400 long course medley relay and they concocted their own competiton. Only 2 teams entered and this was surely the shortest swimming meet on record (15 minutes) with only two heats of one team each. Both teams broke the records.

It was the first of 8 relay records that Nancy, Ken, Rich and Laura broke in the age group. They set 2 more long course records at the Nationals in Cleveland and all 5 short course meters records at meets during the fall. The records included 200, 400 and 800 mixed free and 200 and 400 mixed medley relays. Out of the 10 possible records in the age group, TAM did not break the 400 and 800 long course mixed freestyle records but only because they failed to find a meet at which to swim them.

Nancy Inducted Into International Swimming Hall of Fame

Nancy has been swimming with TAM since the club’s very beginnings. Her early involvement with TAM, as well as USMS, focused her desire to make a difference to the organization and the sport. Over 45 years or engagement with Masters Swimming, Nancy’s vast accomplishments and contributions were recognized through her selection as an inductee this year to the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame. Nancy has enjoyed a stellar career as a competitive athlete and her role in shaping and fostering USMS is legend. Read about Nancy’s Masters Swimming contributions.

Nancy was inducted to ISHOF at the United States Aquatic Sports convention. Laura, Jim, Rich, Cindy and Marie were on hand to help celebrate.