Southern Oregon Masters Aquatics (SOMA) is the newest workout group in Oregon Masters Swimming, officially registered in January 2018. We have been working out as a group for well over two years now and finally made it official this year! There are currently about 50 people on the SOMA e-mail list, which is growing rapidly, and most of us swim at the Superior Athletic Club in Medford. Also included are swimmers who live in Klamath Falls, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Jacksonville, Talent, Ashland, Shady Cove, Phoenix, and other parts of southern Oregon. Many who are part of SOMA are brand-new to Masters swimming, or have only been swimming with Masters for a few years, and there are others like Alice and Barry Fasbender who recently relocated to the Medford area from northern California and have been active in US Masters Swimming for over 40 years!
The core of the group formed in 2015 after the Southern Oregon University pool closed permanently, leaving the Rogue Valley Masters (RVM) swim group without a designated workout pool. Three of us who had been swimming with RVM (Frank Philipps, Charles Roome and Matt Miller) decided at that time to join Superior Athletic Club. That’s when we fortuitously met Mark Hageman! Mark is a natural-born coach and has been vital to the formation of SOMA. Mark provides the vast majority of the workouts for our group, planning them in advance for those of us with target events, and also offering coaching tips while doing the workouts with us. As a testament to Mark’s coaching ability, in 2016, before the formation of SOMA, Rebecca Kay came to swim and train with us on her way to setting a new National record in the 50 meter LCM free (women 70-74) and win that event at the 2016 USMS Summer Nationals. Wow! To say that Mark Hageman was integral to Rebecca’s success would be an understatement.
A pretty good-sized group of SOMA swimmers plans on attending the OMS Association Champs in April, 2018, to compete for the first time as an official Masters team. We’re hoping to make some noise in the medium-sized team category!
SOMA also has a number of members with a keen interest in open water and long-distance swimming. We are planning to host two open water events in 2018 and strongly assist with a third. SOMA swimmers Matt Miller and Mike Servant will be race co-directors for the USMS 10K National Championship Applegate Lake Swim, hosted by Rogue Valley Masters. Many SOMA swimmers plan to come to volunteer and swim at the event.
The Eel Lake swim over on the coast was in jeopardy of getting canceled this year until SOMA stepped up and agreed to run the swim. We’re currently working on securing the venue on August 11th and hope to put on a great event. Also, SOMA is working with Rogue Valley Race Group to add a new open water swim to the Oregon Open Water Swim Series this year at Lake of the Woods between Medford and Klamath Falls. Planned for September 8th, this event will be a part of the Lake of the Woods Tri-Sport Weekend with lots and lots of events to choose from! These last two events (Eel Lake and Lake of the Woods) are still tentative, but are looking good to happen in 2018.
SOMA is a regional Masters Swim team consisting of sub-groups around the southern part of the state. Up the hill from Medford in Klamath Falls, swimming at the Ella Redkey Municipal Pool, is the Klamath Falls swim group, which is now a SOMA Masters satellite group. The Klamath Falls SOMA Masters crew is a fun, supportive, quick-witted group of about 20 swimmers of varying abilities and swim interests. They enjoy swimming year-round in their unique geothermally heated, outdoor pool. There are several different coaches and swimmers who lead the workouts, allowing for ample variety. The group welcomes people of all ages, abilities, and skill levels who want to develop or improve their technique, health, and mood.
The Klamath Falls swimmers say it’s not uncommon to see bald eagles or red tail hawks fly over while doing backstroke, or to gaze at the full moon through the steaming water on a frigid, 10-degree morning swim. In the summer the group organizes open-water swims in the higher elevation Cascade Lakes nearby. Visitors and locals alike are invited to join the group at the Ella Redkey Municipal Pool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 5:30 am – 7:00 am, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 am-12 pm, and Saturdays from 8 am – 9 am.
Over on the coast and also new to SOMA, a great group of swimmers in the Coos Bay/North Bend area enjoy swimming outdoors together year-round, at Mingus Park Pool in Coos Bay. Masters and triathlete groups at this 25-yard, 6 lane pool, can often be found joining each other’s workouts and visiting with one another, in and out of the pool. The Mingus group varies in ages and abilities, and they share the coaching and workout preparation for each day. The main competition-focused group works out T-Th 6:00-7:00 am and Sa/Sun 7-9 am or 12-1:30 pm.
Mingus, and now-SOMA swimmer, Denise Stuntzner swam NCAA D-I at Michigan and holds several Oregon Masters Swimming records. Rod Cook, turning 60 years old this year, also swam in college, and in high-school he was one one-hundreth of a second from making Junior Nationals. Rod’s younger brother, Chris Cook, is swimming superbly and interested in attending a meet this year. Mingus swimmer Jen Feola likes to swim for fun, and she is still found on the 4th all time 6000 yard ePostal top 12 list for Oregon women aged 40-44 . Irena is the youngest one of the group, a new mom, and a previous NCAA D-III swimmer. Jayna Tomac is the de facto leader of the SOMA Mingus group and her name should be familiar to most people in Oregon Masters swimming. In 2015, Jayna won the 10K Open Water National Championship and all 5 of the USMS ePostal National Championships on her way to earning USMS Long Distance All-Star honors. That same year she traveled to FINA Worlds in Montreal and placed in the top 10 in all of her events. In 2017 she traveled to FINA Worlds in Budapest, and placed 14th or higher in all of her events, medaling in two events (200 breast and 200 IM).
As for those of us at Superior Athletic Club in Medford , though some of us are old friends or have been swimming together for at least several years, the group is newly-formed and still growing quickly, including people who historically weren’t Masters swimmers and/or weren’t previously connected. We’re just beginning our journey in getting to know each other well, as the group continues to work out and compete together, with plans for future social events. I would describe the overall culture of the Medford group as very fun, kind, welcoming, motivated, hard-working, positive and supportive of all things aquatic and each other. I very much look forward to swimming with my SOMA friends at Superior every day!
We SOMA members at Superior are largely focused on working hard every day, doing quality workout sets, and using those workouts to prepare ourselves for competition. As such, we do a lot of high-intensity training and tempo sets, trying to balance them with conditioning sets for distance swimmers. However, we do have a number of mostly-fitness swimmers and they are happy to swim with us and always eagerly ask about our competition endeavors and cheer on those of us who compete at our events. We are pretty much always able to work everyone into the same workout so that we’re all swimming together. But given the primary focus on competition, I would predict that our group will be one that, going forward, will show up at many meets, open water events, and ePostals for years to come!
We have already made some trips as a group in 2017 and posted some really good results, proving that our workouts are achieving the intended goals of swimming fast while having fun. Our hard work has already paid dividends, as SOMA swimmers have claimed a number of Oregon pool records in 2017! Barry Fasbender led the way with 4 Oregon records (200 fly and 400 IM in SCM and 200 back and 200 fly in SCY) and 3 Northwest Zone records (same as Oregon records minus the 400IM), all in the men 80-84 age group. Also, Mark Hageman and I both got our first Oregon records in 2017! Mark’s came in the 200 SCM freestyle for men 55-59 and mine was in the 1500 SCM free for men 40-44. Additionally, new SOMA swimmer Maggie Trujillo, who was a nationally ranked age group swimmer, attended her first swim meet in 17 years where she posted the 8th fastest time (2:45.07) in the history of Oregon Masters Swimming in the 200 SCM back for women 30-34. Wow! And after only a few weeks of training!!!
SOMA swimmers also made a strong showing in the 3000 and 6000 yard ePostals. Of particular note was Leah Harris’s swim in the 6000. Leah is new to Masters swimming but has a background in competitive running, and ran at the Division I collegiate level for Stanford University. In her 6000 ePostal, she posted a very respectable time of 1:41:35 which was good enough for 7th in her age group. Thanks to her swim, Oregon was able to put together a 25+ mixed 6000 yard relay composed of Hardy Lussier, Arlene Delmage and Matt Miller which took 1st in the age group, earning National Champion honors. The 3000 ePostal was the very first USMS sanctioned event in which Connie Wilson has participated and she did amazingly well, earning 8th out of 19 in a highly competitive field for women 65-69. And Jan Hildebrandt, as usual, had an amazing swim in the 3000, earning 6th in her age group (60-64) out of 34 entrants. Jan is also a National Champion swimmer, earning 1st as part of a medley relay this summer at the USMS Summer Nationals in Minneapolis. She was also recently featured in the Swimmer Spotlight, where you can read more about her and her long list of accomplishments.
I’m very proud to be a part of SOMA, and look forward to many workouts and competitions with this great group of people, who have been able to connect over various parts of southern Oregon. SOMA is a great positive addition to Oregon Masters swimming, and we look forward to many good workouts and meets, and great friendships!