2014 Annual Meeting -
A Very Good Year 
by Glenda Carroll

Entertaining, engaging, informative, athletic and yummy aren't words necessarily 
associated with an annual meeting. But that's what more than 200 members of Pacific Masters encountered during the fourth day-long annual gathering held on the graceful campus of St. Mary's College, Moraga.  



This year's meeting was an opportunity to celebrate a year of Masters swimming with good food and friends from all over Northern California. It was also an opportunity to listen to Olympic sprinter (and, in case you didn't know, PacMasters member)
Anthony Ervin. Ervin won a gold medal for the 50M free at the 2000 Olympics tying with his teammate Gary Hall, Jr and a silver on the Men's 4 x 100 free relay. He also won two gold medals for the 50M and 100 M free at the 2001 World Championships. Then, at the peak of his career, he disappeared from the swimming limelight. More than ten years later he popped back into view competing in the 2012 London Olympics. Now he's training at UC Berkeley, focused on the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janiero.

The laid back, tattoo covered, curly-headed Ervin talked about what led to those off years. 

"My first Olympics, I was nineteen. I didn't know anything...a complete idiot. In nine months, I went from being an unknown to winning a gold medal. After, I was in existential crisis mode. I wanted to reclaim my identity...I had to let the weight of my medal go."

Ervin meant that literally. In 2004, his gold medal was auctioned on EBay and the proceeds, more than $17,000, were donated to Indian Ocean Tsunami Relief.

While competitive swimming took a back seat, Ervin who plays the guitar, returned to his music, joined a friend in New York and taught kids to swim, even worked in a tattoo parlor. But then that swimming itch came back. Where did he go to compete? USMS Nationals.

Ervin clearly understands the Masters swimmers' spirit, even as he reaches again for the top rung of swimming fame.

"Swimming bonds us," he said. "When we age, we gain one thing and loose another, wisdom for that youthful vigor."

The engaging Ervin based his talk on questions from the engrossed audience. They ran the gamut of 'what's a typical week's workout to 'how do you feel about current Olympic politics?' 
While Anthony Ervin and his thoughtful philosophy about swimming and life in general, was the highlight of the 2014 annual meeting, the day featured activities by and for Masters swimmers. 

A Fun Filled Day 
Over 100 attendees began the annual meeting at the Soda Aquatic Center with an organized workout. In fact, the spacious 50 meter pool was divided into 7 distinct ability levels, each with a dedicated coach providing tailored set and drills, along with insightful and helpful tips. 

Coach Cokie Lepinski
then took over with an entertaining presentation on how to make best use of your hips...in the pool. The well-organized talk complete with videos and useful drills had meeting-goers up on their feet. They swam through air while they practiced Cokie's hip power methods. Each drill ended with a loud 'Hip! Hip! Hooray! from the audience.

There can't be an annual meeting without a review of the year and even some necessary statistics. According to PacMasters chair, Peter Guadagni, the organization continues to grow in all ways possible: membership, number of teams and coaches. During 2014 PacMasters added sixteen clubs for a total of 149; 80 coaches for a total of 410 and 600 new members.

"With our 11,840 members we are the largest LMSC (Local Masters Swim Committee) within USMS. We are the envy of the Masters world," he said. Peter gave a special shout out to the coaches. "They are the ones that make things go."

The annual meeting was an opportunity to celebrate outstanding achievements for both swimming and volunteerism. See the 2014 Annual Meeting Report for a list of awardees and year in review.

Sandwiched between the organized activities, swimmers had a chance to chat with old and new friends. Even Anthony Ervin stayed around to sign autographs and pose for photos. Said first-time annual meeting attendee, Jeff Cooperman, TAM, "I ran into people I knew from other parts of my life... the day was great."

To all of you who missed this year's event, plan to attend next year. It's free. If you're interested in volunteering with Pacific Masters, drop an email to chair@pacificmasters.org


Photos courtesy of Susie Powell and Rich Burns. 

This is a special focus publication of Pacific Masters Swimming.  
We hope it stimulates fond memories of the event for those who attended  
and encourages others to consider participating in upcoming events.
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