Swimmer Spotlight – Jane Nichols 3

Jane Nichols wearing her 1954 bathing suit on her 80th birthday, full skirt and all.

Name:                    Jane Nichols
Age:                        81
Occupation:          Image Analyst – mainly satellite imagery of vegetation
Local Team:           CGM–Columbia Gorge Masters


The one thing that was always constant for me was swimming.  It gave me a place to try to do my best.  It gave me a place to heal (when needed) and know that things would be okay.  Fortunately, it was, and is, there for me.

I learned to swim through the Brownies program (that merit badge was some reward).

Our little summer recreational team competed against the new Santa Clara Swim Club in early 1952, and I beat all of George Haines’s 10 year olds.  SCSC asked me to come swim for them, and I did until I graduated from Los Gatos High School in 1959.  My mom was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer also in 1952, and swimming helped me keep it together.  I was George’s 2nd National winner, as Carol Tate McPherson was the first.  I won the 220 yds fly in Houston, Texas.  I think it was in 1955, and was held at the old Shamrock Hilton Hotel pool.

I went to the Olympic Trials in 1956 as a 14 year old, made the finals in the 100 Fly, and beat Portia Hancock, a teammate whom I often raced against.  I graduated from San Jose State in 1972 with a BA in French and a Masters in Geography, ABD (All But Dissertation).  Upon graduating I raised two kids and coached at San Jose State for the next five years.  I also worked with recreational and high school swim teams in the SF Bay Area.

In the late 1970s – and on – I worked as an Image Analyst identifying vegetation types on satellite imagery for the customer, and then tied the satellite imagery to ground imagery.  I worked for companies who did work for the government.  I also cataloged the U-2 imagery at NASA Ames.  That was fun.  It was at this time that I met my forever mate and gained three more kids.  We had a full and busy home.  It wasn’t until about 1987 or so that I started up with Masters, and that was because of Nancy Ridout’s strong encouragement; first in South San Francisco and later here in Hood River, OR.  Talk about the feeling of coming home!  I did the Alcatraz Swim once and that was enough.  Give me a lane line any time!

When we moved from CA to Hood River, I was the Hood River Valley High School swim team coach, which enabled me to know the community quickly.  I did that for 7 years while running a 4 bedroom B&B full time.  I really don’t know how we did it all!!

Swimming cleans out the brain, keeps the joints from locking up, and gets me out of my daily routine.  I love the friends I have made.  The conversations in the locker-room keep me up to date on the younger folk.

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