Swimmer's Ear
Newsletter of the Potomac Valley Masters Committee
September 2017

    Newsletter Schedule printed 3 times a year
  • January (deadline: December 15)
  • May (deadline: April 15)
  • September (deadline: August 15)
    Newsletter Editor
  • Cheryl Wagner
  • phone: 202-387-2361
  • fax: 202-478-0948
  • email: cherylw46@yahoo.com

  Note from the Chair

Happy Fall everyone!

Amazingly, I will be starting my 20th year as a masters swimmer this fall. I enrolled at the University of Maryland in 1998 with the intent of becoming a computer programmer. After a month, the writing was on the wall. I needed something else to occupy my time, and swimming was going to be it. With a late summer birthday, I still had one more year left in the Montgomery County Swim League (GO ROCK CREEK FINS!!), and was determined to go out with a bang. Thankfully, the brand new UMD pool was across the street from my dorm and I went and signed up for Terrapin Masters.

What a great decision that was. My Masters teammates accepted me with open arms. I still remember Bob, Dave and Cheryl (Wagner) pushing me to the front of the lane and then kicking me out when I was trying to be lazy and not challenge myself by moving up a lane. I had such a great time that year, I decided to keep it up, and have subsequently found myself more involved with the team, then our LMSC and then our national organization. Here's to 20 more! By the way, I ended up swimming some amazing times in summer '99 - my 1:09.00 100 back is STILL in my lifetime top 3, behind only 2 full-leg-suited swims - so I sure did go out with a bang!

Close to home, we've just scheduled our LMSC Picnic - We hope you and your family will be able to make it! Also, I've been attempting to come visit a few different team practices this year. No other reason than to come by, say hi, see what your group is like and check out some new pools! Its been a slow process, but I've hit up a few and am looking to hit up a few more before this year is out. It is always great to see new groups, new people and spread ideas. I hope to see you on deck soon!

Happy Laps!


PV logo

  Articles & Interviews


Michele Walters Swims 40 Bridges Double Manhattan Island Swim July 28-29
Michele Walters Swims 40 Bridges Double Manhattan Swim July 28-29
intro by Cheryl Wagner      
photos by Michele Walters and crew

I’ve known Michele Walters for years – doing the Potomac Swim year after year and helping me with sundry tasks, such as checking in swimmers before completing 7.5 miles in an always challenging (sometimes brutal) swim. She’s tiny in stature, but a huge personality and annually treks in Nepal making friends at a children’s sanctuary for which she raises funds.

She completed the 40 Bridges Double Manhattan Island Swim on July 28-29, 2017. The swim was sponsored for the first time by New York Open Water (NYOW) and was well organized by Rondi Davies, David Barra, and Alex Arevalo. Swimming 57 miles is a feat which leaves me stunned – and awed. She combined the swim with a charity to raise funds for disabled children in Nepal. To date, she’s been able to raise $6,065 in funds and will continue to raise funds until she leaves for Nepal at the end of October.

She completed the swim in 20 hours 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Michele describes her crew as magnificent in their support and competence. She had great kayaking support, with Bill Steele on the first loop and Luis Lopez on the second loop around Manhattan. She had two crew members, Mellissa Burroughs and Ed Riley, who were on the boat throughout the entire swim and were instrumental and crucial in so many ways. Her crew expertly dodged the boat traffic which included cruise ships, party boats, Circle Line ferries, jet skis and barges. She said the sights of Manhattan were unforgettably beautiful. Stopping in the Hudson to view the Freedom Tower at sunset and seeing the night skyline and bridges lit up and reflecting the colors off the water, was a special memory. Towards the end, her mind was alert, but her body just didn’t want to go on from cold and exhaustion. Her stroke rate had dropped, but her crew pointed out that the final 40th bridge was in sight and she dug very deep. At the finish, she said she left everything in the water – nothing left at all, but the glow of knowing she’d done it and that she had the support of her crew and all who cheered her along the away.

A total of six swimmers entered the 40 Bridges swim. Four of those six swimmers completed it. For official results, visit NYOW. Here is a story written by Jia Jung, who served as an official observer, on Michele’s boat.

40 Bridges
by Jia Jung

The day before
The experience of being an observer for Michele’s ultimately successful 40 Bridges double swim around Manhattan Island for the benefit of DRC Nepal (DONATE: Love for Nepal), began the night before the two day affair kick off. On Thursday, 7/27, I sent her a message wishing her the best. She was in good spirits, replying that it was to be a team effort. I was surprised that someone about to undertake a 57-mile challenge wouldn't be in a hermetically sealed chamber, having a nervous breakdown.

The Start
The next day, Friday, 7/28, I had my tracker on as the six swimmers began at 11:50 a.m. and noon in two waves. I didn't catch much more of the action because I left the office to prepare and theoretically, rest for the overnight watch. Still, I trusted that crew members Ed Riley and Melissa Burroughs, kayaker Bill Steele, and day observer David Wallman were doing well. Indeed, as the time to set out to Pier 25 approached and I failed to nap, my phone chimed. David informed me that he'd leave his stopwatch, clipboard, and observation notes. Ed asked for pizza (stressing that he didn't care if it was cold) and some more Coca-Cola. He said Michele was in good condition and that everything was going as planned. He sent me a photo of her by the GWB -- bridge 20 out of 40. She was beaming, and I thought, damn, she IS in good condition. It made me so glad, and frankly spooked me, too - how was it possible?

Reporting for Duty
The event email had asked overnight supporters to get to the pier at 8:30 p.m. I picked up the food at a sweet old spot called Il Matone with the cooks shouting good luck at my back and cops and locals asking "Is that for me?" as I walked out the door onto the cobblestone street with two steaming pizzas in my arms.

Kayaker John Russell was already there when I got to the pier at 8 p.m. sharp. Observer Elena Pavlova and kayaker Richard Lopez weren't far behind me. No sooner had we gotten situated than the radio crackled with Barra asking who was there. He came by to pick us up with Agent Orange, barking at us to hurry up, and looking like he'd already been to hell and back. Overall, he was pretty patient as he monitored boat traffic, coordinated swimmers who'd have to tread water until the flood tide in the East River, and arranged to deliver us to our separate crews, while Elena and I took sunset selfies.

John got delivered first to the Miss Marie, whose crew saw the pizzas and asked, "Is that for meee?" It was startling to see Steve Gruenwald, then Jaimie Monahan in the water, with bright green lights dangling from their caps. They seemed other-than-human at this point - apparently, their transformation to sea-things had already occurred over the past eight hours.

The sun had set by the time I boarded the Six Eights, shouting, "Pizza, pizza!" I met Melissa for the first time and hugged Ed, immediately borrowing his head lamp to see that David had left impeccable notes. Meanwhile, Luis Lopez had somehow already replaced Bill as the night kayaker. Jozef Koppelman zipped by on the Jetski - this was the ninth hour or so for him with about 12 more to go. I didn't get to make contact with Michele until the Brooklyn Bridge because we all found out that by some miracle, she wouldn't have to tread water, but could proceed on the start of the flood and we wanted to get out of the downtown area, chock full of party boats playing Top 40 dance music.

Pictured: Michele & Luis

When Michele finally got to feed, she took the time to shout, "Hi, Jia!" and sounded great, as if she was just having a regular day. Her stroke was at 64 per minute - consistent with the rest of the day, according to the crew. She went on like that all the way up the East River just flying, and seemed to get past Hell's Gate better than feared. Around Ward Island footbridge and East 107th is when shit finally hit the fan, but she was still progressing so powerfully that we were all taken by surprise when we could SEE the water moving against her in the windless night - a three knot current.

Pictured: Michele, Jaimie, and Melissa

RFK Bridge
She rested in a creepy crook in the blackness under the RFK bridge for a good long time, while Ed shouted nervously that she had to get moving or she might get cold (the water temp was in the high 70s throughout, but the air temp was dropping by the moment with a chilly breeze swirling around). Ed made the decision to send Melissa in to pace swim with her to keep her spirits up and keep her swimming. In a suit that was still dry, Melissa got towed in by a jet ski and valiantly jumped cold into the madness. Michele’s stroke count shot back up to normal almost the instant Melissa hit the water – it was apparent to all that the two were dear training buddies, and the crew was much impressed and relieved.

Somewhere around there, we observed the crowds from the concert on Randall's Island Park squeezing onto tilting ferries past midnight. Sighing, we discussed how the greatest pleasures and excitements can be found in this city, only to be undone by the misery involved in getting back home. We also got updates on Joe's diving trips and new concrete-and-wood design collaborations at his furniture shop.

Ed and I then chose offerings to the Harlem River from Michele's bag of rocks and bits collected from around the world. He threw one towards Michele, and I climbed up into the crow's nest of the Six Eights to hurl one as far as I could to appease the silent rage ahead. Michele continued when she was good and ready, but after such a fight, her stroke count gradually came down to 58. With this example, I beheld the strength of this woman more than I acknowledged the overpowering mechanisms of Manhattan's waters.

Madison Avenue Bridge
Michele held on, swimming consistently at her new normal, and at 2:50 a.m., we were all heartened by the surprise presence of Sharon Gunderson, who'd come out on the middle of the bridge with a flashlight to cheer. We shouted to her to make sure that we were moving under the Madison Avenue Bridge and not one of the other slightly similar looking bridges. Yes, we were passing the Madison Avenue bridge at the EXACT TIME that Rondi had predicted for this particular swimmer in these particular conditions.

Trouble on the Hudson River
At the beautifully lit High Bridge, Michele announced that she felt "like shit" when we asked how she was doing. She said it in a wry, hardy way, but we, the crew, cringed a bit with guilt because the fact was that the hot water in the tall green tubs was bordering on lukewarm now, and hadn't dissolved the bouillon cubes that she'd requested at the last stop, no matter how we'd tried to break them up and shake them up in the thermos. It must've been awful.

As usual, we boated through Spuyten Duyvil while it was open and waited on the other side for our swimmer. Michele reached the Hudson at 5:07 a.m., when the pale pink of sunrise started distinguishing itself from the raging light pollution of the truly sleepless city as daybreak on Sunday, 7/29. It was soon light out, and as I tried to get a stroke count, I realized in horror that I couldn't because Michele kept stopping before a minute had passed. I started feeling numb all over knowing that the moment might be coming when I'd have to call the swim, even if no one else did. It was like seeing a different person in there - there was a raw effort in the lifting of her arms, but no more gas left. Just none.

Ed was one step ahead of me, and commanded us to ready the blankets and dry towels in case of an early exit. JUST in case. Luis rolled up alongside us. We asked for his prognosis. With equal parts zen and warrior in his eyes, he shrugged, "I mean she's tough as hell, but..." and all of us looked over the choppy waters and heavenward. As if on cue, Michele herself raised her head and said that she didn't think she could do it anymore.

We said okay, and moved over to her, telling her she'd had a noble swim and that there was no shame. And there wasn't. But she was just floating there. We asked her what was up, and she said, "I'm just thinking if I'm REALLY going to get out or not." It was about 5:30 a.m., and the point at which I knew that this tough ass bee was going to do this whole damn thing and maybe still break a world record while she was at it. But as an impartial observer and a friend and a suspicious person who hates to jinx things, I tried (and sometimes failed) to keep my mouth shut on this conviction while my heart just pounded in celebration and vicarious anxiety.

Digging Deep
Now, the crew informed her that, by the way, the George Washington Bridge, the 40th and final of the swim, was just riiiight over there, and the Hudson was now beginning to ebb, pulling southwards. She was so focused on just the act of swimming that this fun fact caught her off guard and got her to continue.

She kept on going. And going. And going. With a bit of rally around North Cove, her stroke count even got back up to 61, and I saw the pain and effort in each raise of the arm, felt the dipping into reserves that one doesn't know whether they have or not 'til they are there. It was hard to watch, not because she looked terrible in the water (hell, she was probably swimming faster than my regular rate), but because we knew how raw the effort had gotten - it looked like a swim for survival, not for sport.

When she passed the mark, just strokes after the record breaking Jaimie Monahan and strong Courtney Faulk, who finished far from the cove because of an oncoming barge, it was 20 hours, 16 minutes, and 40 seconds.

The Finish
Agent Orange brought her back to us. I was cowering in a corner to stay out of everyone's way, and Melissa snapped me to attention and told me to hold something, to help in any way. Two men helped her onto the boat, and Ed caught her as she was sinking downwards, downwards, as if to the bottom of the river if only for the floor of the boat. He forcefully sat her down on the cooler at the back of the boat for a hot water shower from what remained in the green tubs. Melissa and I then swaddled her in dry towels, then brought her down below to strip her down, and swaddled her once again, spooning her from both sides for the rest of the way back.

By now, we all had the Chrissy Teigen face from when John Legend won a Golden Globe in 2015 - ready to weep but too full of joy and wonder and forced composure to do so - a strange kind of constipation of tears - suspension in a moment that stupefied us all. Meanwhile, Michele thawed out, her white, pruned hands regaining their color, her voice growing stronger and lucidly recounting so many memories of her journey and emphasizing the support she'd felt all along. She also laughed that all she could think about was all the bags of stuff on board and the fact that we had to get it all back off the boat and into the car. We told her to forget about it!

By the time that we reached Pier 25 again, Michele was able to congratulate Courtney and, a bit later, climb over the locked gate at the top of a ramp. And here came Gilles Chalandon, the only male finisher out of the four who made all 40 bridges. Everyone was ecstatic that he prevailed, too, because he'd considered stopping early on into his second loop.

It awed me, it scared me, and I'm still not over witnessing what it looks like when a person has left everything in the water. It was like seeing someone being born or go onto another life, like seeing a ghost or a god. It was some other level shit, and if I still haven't processed it, I can't imagine how it is for everyone else, much less the champ. Nothing but gratitude to have been a part of this life experience with a gold star crew.

Pictured: Jia, Ed, Michele and Melissa

Congratulations to everyone who finished, and to all who dared to attempt the double, and probably will next time around, knowing their proven grit and talent. Just know that on July 27th and 28th, there were only six of you in the whole, wide world doing what you were doing.


Remembering Our Friends in Houston after Hurricane Harvey
by Cheryl Wagner

My parents at The Woodlands Pool in 1984
Houston holds a special place in my heart. My parents spent 19 years in The Woodlands, Texas (just north of Houston) from 1981 - 2000. As I traveled there more frequently to help care for them I was grateful for the outlet that Masters Swimming in The Woodlands beautiful pool gave me. I was welcomed to their workouts and met Tom Boak, who held many positions in USMS and received the Ransom award. I also heard tales of one of the first Nationals held at The Woodlands which included the "beer relay"!

So hearing about the flooding in Houston and the Woodlands inspired me to look for ways to help. NPR lists a number of charities on this webpage. Please consider making a donation. You can make a difference!





Congratulations! Potomac Valley LMSC Results from 2017 USMS Summer National Championship

View results: PV Results


2017 UMAC Masters Awards Recipients

Congratulations to:

UMAC Male Swimmer of the Year:Michael Doane 
UMAC Female Swimmer of the Year:Courtney Randolph 
UMAC Peer Nominated Award:Mollie GroverThis award goes to an individual nominated by their peers for any act personal or professional, wet or dry and selected by a vote of the coaching and administrative staff.
UMAC Age Knows No Boundaries Award:Jim NealisThis award goes to the individual who overcomes the adversity of the aging process and demonstrates a commitment to continued and lasting health, fitness, service, and wellness.
UMAC Mentor Award:Mollie GroverThis award goes to the individual who goes above and beyond to mentor, teach, coach, and inspire the UMAC Family.
UMAC Most Improved Award:Jonathan O’LoughlinThis award goes to the individual who shows commitment to improvement and development as an athlete and professional and believes that through hard work they will reap the benefits of success.
UMAC Pursuit of the Mission Award:Jeff Strahota This award goes to the individual who best exemplifies and pursues the mission and values of U.S. Masters Swimming: To promote health, wellness, fitness and competition for adults through swimming.
UMAC Outstanding Official:Angela Fu 




  Meet News


UMAC Last Chance Meet May 6, 2017

PHOTOS: http://www.pvmasters.org/~newsletter/Sep-17/Last-Chance-Meet/


Arlington Masters at Nationals
Article and photo by Alison Mathey Lambeth

Aaron at Nationals
Congratulations to Aaron Frederick for repping our team at USMS Summer Nationals!


Germantown Masters
Article and photos by Mark Walters

Clark, Schneider, Postma, Tomson
At the UMBC Maryland Masters meet this summer.
GERM swimmers pictured are from left to right: Kempsey Clark, Johanna Schneider, Terri Postma and Farol Tomson.
GERM bay swim participants pictured are, kneeling: Mark Young, Dominik Van Der Veen.  standing: Jon Kaplan, Scott Jackson, Jason George, Denise Dombay, Kempsey Clark, Lisa Chin
GERM Bay Swim participants pictured are, kneeling: Mark Young, Dominik Van Der Veen. standing: Jon Kaplan, Scott Jackson, Jason George, Denise Dombay, Kempsey Clark, Lisa Chin


Maryland Swim for Life
photos and text by Joe Stewart

Marcia Smith came back to MD Swim for Life -
after a 15 year absence!
(She swam in the first 10 events.)

Joe Stewart - on right

Joe Stewart and Dawson Nash



2017 Potomac Valley LMSC Picnic - October 15

Cabine John Park

Please save the date - 2017 Potomac Valley LMSC Picnic to be held Sunday October 15, at the Cabin John Regional Park Group Picnic Area. Details and Invitation to follow! Family friendly, conveniently located just off 495 & 270. We look forward to seeing everyone!

If you are interested in volunteering, email: Angela Fu


2017 Columbus Day Classic - October 7

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club is hosting our 2017 Columbus Day Classic on Saturday, October 7, at the Wilson Aquatics Center in Washington, DC. Competitors may enter up to 5 individual events for a $25 flat entry fee. The 500 Freestyle is limited to the first 32 entrants. Please share with your teammates. Hope to see you there!
For more information and to register:https://www.clubassistant.com/club/meet_information.cfm?c=1306&smid=9355

Sprint Classic Meet Oct 29, 2017

More info:
Sunday October 29, 2017
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Arlington Masters News
by Alison Mathey Lambeth

Arlington Masters had their annual BBQ in July.
Thank you to Jayme Swain and Steve Studley for hosting us!
Congratulations to Coach Dawn and Mike Stevenson on the birth of their baby boy, Connor!

Updates from our LMSC Chair

LMSC Updates:
  • Your USMS membership will be $50 in 2018 and likely stay at that level for about 3 years. This figure includes a portion ($43) that goes straight to USMS and a smaller portion ($7) that goes to the LMSC to assist in production of the LMSC newsletter, website maintenance, convention coverage and other expenses. For reference, this year's $45 fee was $41 and $4, with our LMSC portion being the lowest in the country by far.
  • Jeff, Mollie, Natalie and Stephanie Gauzens are among the several Potomac Valley delegates who will be attending the annual USMS Convention in September 13-17 in Dallas, TX. At this meeting, we address the business and administrative side of USMS, and make sure the things that make this organization work are continuing to work. This includes voting on rule changes, participating on panels and running for office. The convention packet has not yet been released, but stay tuned to the Convention Website around September (http://www.usms.org/admin/conv/2017/) and if there are any issues that tickle you, please reach out to any one of us with your opinions.

Sep 16, 2017 - Maryland Senior Olympics Swim Meet

Boyds, MD 20841

Sep 17, 2017 - 11th Annual Wharf to Wharf Swim

Mathews, VA 23109

Sep 30, 2017 Escape To Lewes Open Water Classic 3 Mile Swim & 1 Mile Swim

Lewes, DE 19958

Oct 15, 2017 - 2017-18 Carol Chidester Memorial Swim Series Meet No.1

Ellicott City, MD 21043


Nov 4, 2017 - 37th Annual VMST Fall Meet

VVirginia Beach, VA 23455

Nov 11, 2017 - 2017-18 Carol Chidester Memorial Swim Series Meet No. 2

Easton, MD 21601

Dec 10, 2017 - 2017-2018 Carol Chidester Memorial Swim Series Meet No. 3

Chestertown, MD 21620

USMS Coaches' Certification Clinics

Listing of all USMS Coaches' Certification Clinics

We will be offering the following classes in DC in 2018:

  • Level 1-2 coach certification
  • Level 3 coach certification
  • Clinic course for coaches
  • Stroke development clinic
  • ALTS instructor certification
For more information: Marianne Groenings mgroenings@usmastersswimming.org

Adult Learn-to-Swim Instructor Certification Course Oct 27, 2017 - Alexandria VA

USMS will be holding an Adult Learn to Swim Certification course in Alexandria, VA on October 28, 2017.

Future Saints program at Marymount University - Volunteers Needed

We would like to disseminate information about our Future Saints program at Marymount University. We are trying to fill the void left when Nadar Por Vida ceased to exist. We invite children of low income families to Marymount University every Saturday night ( except holidays ) for swimming lessons.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths for children ages 1-4, the second leading cause of unintentional death for kids 1-14. Studies show that Latino and African American children drown at a rate 3 times higher than white children, and if neither parent can swim, the rate is 9 times higher.

We use volunteer instructors from Marymount University Swim Team, the Clark Swim Club, and other local high school swimmers, but would love to have some more adult swimmers involved.

I know there are some Potomac Valley Swimmers that would be very interested in helping out. We have a SignUp Genius on our website, http://www.clarkaquaticfoundation.org.

USMS Marketing Resources

Here is a link to the USMS Marketing resources page. Clubs are eligible to receive a Co-Branded USMS/Team Logo Banner every calendar year. There is also all manner of USMS Swag available for free if you only pay shipping to get it. http://www.usms.org/content/coachresources?utm_campaign=top_nav&utm_medium=local_programs.

Registration Notes
by Jeff Roddin

The last PV-LMSC Board Meeting of the year will be at the conclusion of the Sprint Classic at GMU on October 29, 2017. Meeting start time will be announced closer to the meeting. PV-LMSC by-laws require attendance to at least one board meeting each year (if you attend at least one meeting or host a sanctioned event, you receive a $50 “rebate” at the end of the year). The following teams have not yet met the attendance requirement this year:

Anthony Bowen YMCA, Arlington Masters, DC Masters, DC Tri, Fort Belvoir, Herndon Aquatic Club, Life Time Mid Atlantic, Machine, Masters Aquatics at Spring Hill, Mosby Woods, NOVA JCC, Potomac Marlins, Right Duff, Riptide, Sea Devils, SportFit Lab, Team America Commandos, Swim Spray, Tollefson, Wave One.


Private Swim Clinics

There is information at http://www.claybrittswimming.com/masterstriathletes.html about lessons, Masters workouts and how to arrange a private clinic for your team or friends. I’m excited to be able to offer private lessons again and I hope this can benefit you.

Clay Britt http://www.claybrittswimming.com

PV LMSC Meeting Minutes - July 27, 2017

July 27, 2017 minutes



USMS Sponsor Partner Benefits

Because of the time, energy and resources our partners dedicate to USMS, we’re able to provide valuable membership benefits. For more information see: http://www.usms.org/merch/sponsors

Private Swim Instruction

Clay Britt http://www.claybrittswimming.com

  Photo Credits


All photos by Cheryl Wagner unless otherwise noted.

  Events Calendar



Pool Event Calendar



Long Distance/Open Water Calendar