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2020 Pacific Masters Virtual Annual Convention and Meeting

2020, A Very Strange Year

Every year, Pacific Masters swimmers look forward to the Annual Celebration and Meeting. It is a chance to see each other for a relaxed, fun, informative day. Usually the festivities begin with a group swim practice led by our award-winning Pacific Masters coaches and a dry-land exercise class showcasing workouts designed specifically for swimmers.

During the Meeting, annual finances are reported and discussed, elections are held. We acknowledge the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to run this organization and show appreciation to all our volunteers by presenting the annual Service Awards. This familiar format was before COVID-19.

Now the world has changed, forcing our 2020 Celebration and Meeting to be held virtually. Virtually? How can this be done if we cannot congregate? One definition of the word “virtually” is “almost entirely or nearly” as in the used DVD set that is virtually complete, or the infamous medical procedure that is virtually painless. Pacific Masters somehow made our annual gathering both complete and painless - and just as inspirational as previous years.

The 2020 Pacific Masters Annual Celebration and Meeting was held on Zoom, spread out over two consecutive Sunday afternoons, November 8 and 15. It was great to share experiences with everyone again from the comfort of our living rooms.

Special recognition goes out to this year’s Annual Meeting Committee for their hard work and organization: Nancy Ridout (Chair), Teddy Palmer, Clare Kubiak, Lorena Sims, Rich Burns, Chris Ottati, Maggie Tevis, Annette Coholan, and Phyllis Quinn.

The Last Gold panel discussionSunday, November 8, 2020, began with a welcome from our Chairperson Phyllis Quinn. She wasted no time diving into the day’s program: a special screening of the film, The Last Gold. The film takes us back to the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the epic clash between the US women and the steroid-enhanced East German team. The screening was followed by a panel discussion moderated by the king of swim broadcasting, Rowdy Gaines. On the panel were seven of the US Olympic swimmers who attended those games as well as the movie’s director, Brian Brown. It was fortunate that Nancy and her team, with Rowdy’s help, was able to assemble this exceptional group of icons.

It was so interesting to hear the participants reflect on what it was like competing against an unfair advantage and how those Olympic Games still haunt them today. We appreciate everyone who participated on the panel, especially Rowdy who happened to be in Budapest, Hungary for the International Swimming League (ISL). The Zoom format made it possible for him to be in two places at once. If you have not had a chance to view The Last Gold, try to put it on your list.

The second session of the Celebration was held on the following Sunday, November 15. We gathered in front of our devices to watch another film, this one made by Rich Burns and his grandson, Noam Sawyer Wright. “A Strange Year” is the story of how our members adapted to the pandemic, using snapshots and videos provided by Pacific Masters swimmers and teams all set to a lively soundtrack. It was fun to see familiar faces and to watch how we improvised, managed to cope, and made the best of a bad situation. Well done, Rich and Noam. “A Strange Year” can be viewed here.

Bonnie Tsui InterviewNancy Ridout interviewed Bonnie Tsui, author of Why We Swim. Bonnie is a Bay Area swimmer and member of Pacific Masters. Her book chronicles swimming through the ages and across different cultures. She also shares some of her own swimming memoirs.

The Annual Meeting, by necessity, includes reports and presentations from the Chairs of Pacific Masters’ many departments. Full reports can be found here.

2020 Annual Business Meeting AgendaA highlight of the day was the announcement of the 2020 Pacific Masters Service Award winners. Pacific Masters could not be successful without its volunteers. We recognize those who have contributed their valuable input and time. Thank you very much. Heartfelt congratulations to one and all:

Nancy Ridout Award for Distinguished Service: Phyllis Quinn
Contributor of the Year: Karen Harris
Appreciation Awards: Richard Burns; Carol Nip; Laura Shope; Greg Stoner
Personal Achievement Awards: Catherine Breed; Google Relay (Craig Robinson, Joe Gardner, Erik Haugen, Sven Mawson, Collin Johnston, Tom Dowd, Rob Gray, and Joe Young)
Peggy Lucchesi Award: Bonnie Tsui

The day ended on a fun note with the game “Wheel of Names”. Our wonderful sponsors provided prizes to those lucky enough to be chosen.

As a fun incentive to attend the Convention, cash prizes were awarded based on the percentage of team membership in attendance on the second Sunday, November 15. And the winners are:

Large Teams:
1st – Walnut Creek Masters
2nd – Mountain View Masters
3rd – Davis Aquatic Masters
Medium Teams:
1st – Albany Armada Aquatic Masters
2nd – Richmond Plunge Masters
3rd – MEMO
Small Teams:
1st – Rolling Hills Mud Sharks
2nd – Sebastopol Masters Aquatic Club

Even during one of the most challenging and stressful years, we managed to find positive messages to share.

Hopefully in 2021, we will meet poolside, at the lakeshores, and at the beaches, to swim, compete, and be together. We will make more memories in the sport we love and celebrate our perseverance at next year’s Annual Celebration and Meeting, in whatever form it takes. Plan to join us!

Written by Linda Hepworth, competitive swimmer, Update editor, and author of The Water Becons.

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