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Cal Aquatic Masters Keep Calm and Swim On

CALM team Master Picture

by Kate Eby

Spot a bright gold tee shirt with a bit of British wit and you've seen the latest design of Cal Aquatic Masters (CALM), a team that's been around since Margaret Thatcher took office. 'Keep Calm and Swim On' is CALM's catchphrase, adopted from the popular World War II British slogan, 'Keep Calm and Carry On.'

Behind the Name
Originally, Cal Aquatic Masters was called Strawberry Canyon AquaticCALM team Masters Picture Masters, and was named for the pool they first used for practice in 1979. The name change took place last year to better reflect their connection with UC Berkeley. The team includes 150 swimmers and as many as 10 coaches. CALM is actively recruiting new swimmers. They're also looking for coaches and hiring lifeguards. 

One of the current coaches is Jeremy Cohen, who has spent his entire masters career with CALM. Cohen is also team president and the longest running member of the team.

Today, CALM holds 27 workouts a week in two on-campus pools.

Who's In the Pool
About 25 percent of team members are Cal students, according to Cohen, although swimmers do not need to be connected with the university in order to join the team. Cohen estimates about 10 percent of the team competes. Jennifer PhalenOne swimmer is Jennifer Phalen, who has placed in the top three for Pacific Masters Open Water Swims for the last four years. Another standout is Kate Coleman who took first place in the 65-69 age group for the last two years of Pacific Masters Open Water Swims.

CALM swimmers' talents extend beyond the pool, says Cohen: "We've also got writers, scientists...filmmakers, artists.. all kinds of researchers, a lot of people work at large Berkeley labs. It's a very very talented team." 

On the Level
Workouts are grouped into three energy levels which are based on both heart rate and perceived intensity. An EN1 set includes longer distances on a comfortable interval and allows swimmers to focus on technique. EN2 is about keeping an aerobic pace. At the EN3 level, the distances get shorter as intensity increases.

"It's not just sprinting. It's high intensity. It's heart rate. You can go to Energy Level Three and swim a 500...You are going to be pushing the pace big time," says Cohen.

The one-hour workouts focus on conditioning with the fastest swimmers completing more than 3,200 yards. "I like pyramids. I'm a big fan of pyramids," admits Cohen before offering this sample 2,000-yard set:

8 x 50 sprint
400 easy
6 x 50 sprintKate Coleman
300 easy
4 x 50 sprint
200 easy
2 x 50 sprint
100 easy

Keep Calm and...
Cal Aquatic Masters hosts a meet every year since 1980. This year's event drew 240 swimmers. Each received bright gold shirts with the saying "Keep Calm and Swim On" printed on the front. 

"Our team has seen it all: births, marriages... we've lost people over the years, some of the founding members of the team are no longer with us, we've seen the whole life cycle."

Cohen adds, "We will continue on; we will try to keep calm."

To learn more about the team, visit them online at Or, check out their Facebook page here: They can also be reached by phone at (510) 643-4397.

Kate Eby joined Masters in the Fall of 2012 after a decade away from competitive swimming. She has completed four Ironman-distance swims, the first when she was 15 years old. 

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