Led by Earl Walter, as OMS Chairman, and Mike Popovich, as Meet Director, Oregon Masters swimming was put on the map as a power in USMS in the pool and in national committees. As someone who swam in the meet and who has watched Oregon’s influence in USMS boards and committees over the 40 years since the meet, I can say for certain that Oregon’s influence and success in USMS over the years has been tremendous. In 1982 OMS entered 205 swimmers in the championship meet. Some of the people who swam there and who are still in swimming, as far as I know, are Jim Bigler, Barry Fasbender, Peggy Hodge, Steve Johnson, Ron Nakata, Ginger Pierson, Sandy Rousseau, Mark Worden, Alice Zabudsky and myself. As a high school swimming coach, I always wanted to have swimmers qualify for National championships, and now in 1982 I could go myself. After the 200 and 400 freestyle, the 200 fly and 400 IM, I got on the blocks for the 1500 on the last day, and I was tired. I did the proverbial “sprint the first 50 and bring it home” strategy with nothing to lose, and swam within 15 seconds of my best time in college. The meet was wonderful. My college coach, Don Van Rossen, won three events in breaststroke at the meet. There were also some of my UO teammates, Dave Boyd, 40, and Don Smith, 36. Olympians Joe Bottom, John Ferris and Steve Clark swam as members of San Franciso’s “The Olympic Club.” Outstanding for Oregon were Roy Abramowitz, 28, Lavelle Stoinoff, 49, Jeff Storie, 26, Robert Smith, 39, Joyce Bahler, 52, Hazel Bressie 73, Fred Eckhardt, 56, Connie Wilson, 47, Charlie Swanson, 30 , John DeRoest, 30, and that’s only a few of Oregon’s large contingent. There were swimmers from eight countries other than the US: Australia, Canada, England, France, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and Venuzuela. Larger teams from the US included Inland Empire Masters of Washington, PNA, San Mateo Marlins of California, and the St. Petersburg Masters of Florida. Sponsors for the meet included Speedo and Arena, of course. Some Oregon sponsors were J.D. Pence Aquatic Supply, Main Street Grocery in Gresham, Miller High Life Beer, Elmer’s on Burnside and the Salem Ballet School run by Elfie Stevenin, who swam at age 61. Also advertised in the program was the first World Masters Swimming Championship to be held in 1984 in New Zealand.
One of the benefits in going to a Masters championship meet is who you might meet. After my 400 IM, I received a lesson in breaststroke in the Mt. Hood indoor pool from Manuel Sanguily, a former Olympic swimmer from pre-Castro Cuba, then swimming in New York City. It was great to get some tips from a master teacher and a Masters swimmer who knew as much about breaststroke as he did. When it was all over, Oregon swimming was changed. OMS put on additional national championships. The Mt. Hood pool was a great facility to come to. The number of people who put on the meet was small compared to what is required now, but they did an amazing job. Thanks to Sandy Rousseau, Jim Bigler, and Roy and Linda Abramowitz who were involved. Thanks to others who were part of this great meet, but I don’t know who might be still with us.