Name: Matthew Gilman
Occupation: Real estate agent in Central Oregon
Local Team: COMA (satellite member, lives in Redmond)
There is a new name making its way onto the Oregon top 12 list in the mens 45 – 49 age group and it’s Matthew Gilman. It’s hard not to notice times like these swum at Short Course Yard Spring Nationals in San Antonio:
200 free 1:51 (4th)
500 free 5:05 (3rd)
100 breast 1:02
100 fly 0:56 (swum at Association Meet)
100 IM 0:56
200 IM 2:02 (3rd)
400 IM 4:25 (3rd)
Between his job as a real estate agent, promoting a bond measure in Redmond, and raising a family, Matt found the time to chat with me about his life and the role swimming has played in it.
I have had a whole life of swimming. I have not really taken much time off since age six, and I am still super involved with it on a day to day basis. It is hard to get my swimming life into a paragraph!
I was born in Boston, but moved to Oklahoma at a very young age, so I do consider myself an Oklahoman. I started swimming with the Sooner Swim Club in Norman, OK, at the age of 6 and continued through high school. Due to my asthma, I decided early on that swimming was a better sport for me than soccer or t-ball. Interestingly, Scot Sullivan of the Mac Club was also a member of this team, although he is a few years ahead of me.
After high school, I attended Columbia University in New York and swam there all four years. I can’t say that I loved it. The pool was dark and cold with no windows. I was tired all the time, and didn’t have time to do much studying. I just kept swimming because I really didn’t know anything else!
I graduated with a degree in film studies, but ended up coaching the age group swimmers at Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics. In my time there, I built up a good age group program and learned a lot about coaching and parents! The problem was that my paycheck could not keep up with the cost of living in Manhattan, so I moved on.
I decided to get my MBA in Marketing at Indiana University in Bloomington, where I swam with a rec team and a Masters team, and did my best to emulate Mark Spitz being coached by Doc Counsilman. After that I moved to Palo Alto to work for start-up company Xfire, which specialized in communications in on-line gaming apps. While there I swam and coached with the Stanford Masters Team. These were some of the best workouts I can remember, and I swam with many swimming greats such as Jodi Smith and Susan Preston, not to mention several other Olympic level and gold medal swimmers we had on our team. Xfire was later sold to MTV Viacom, and after a few other start up jobs, my wife and I decided it was time to get out of the rat race.
I met my wife in 2003 at Indiana University. We instantly became a blended family because she had a daughter, Jasely, who at the time was six. Jasely just graduated from Oregon State University – Cascades (Go Beavs!). Our son Ike was born in 2009 and is now 12 years old. In 2015 we saw a house on Zillow in Redmond, which further confirmed that we had to get out of the unaffordable California (rent was over $4300!) with the long commutes and jobs we were tiring of. Our home in Redmond provides a friendlier environment for raising a family, and easy access to the swimming treadmill that is the Deschutes River.
Currently in Redmond I am promoting a bond measure to get a new pool/recreation center built. The Redmond pool (aka Cascade Swim Center) was built in 1979 for a population of 6,500. Today the district serves a population of more than 45,000 and is still growing. The old pool is small and crowded, and kept at a sweltering 84 degrees. The Redmond community severely lacks healthy lifestyle choices, as there are no indoor facilities for citizens in the winter.
The bond measure proposes to keep Cascade Swim Center, and build a brand new recreational community center, with a walking track, indoor gym, and a 25 meter pool with 8 lanes. The indoor gym would provide opportunities for basketball, volleyball, and pickleball to name a few. A similar measure was unsuccessful in 2019, but we are very optimistic that it will be successful in November 2022. We are better organized this time around, and several members of the City Council are in favor of the project. Our goal is to have both political parties endorse this bond. One of the things I have really appreciated about living in a small town is just how involved you can be and how you can make a difference if you are willing to put in the work.
I have to say that my love for swimming has continued to grow my whole life. Since college I have been mature enough to actually work on and understand technique much better, and I have invented a few drills that I give to our small group of Masters that I coach in Redmond. In Redmond I have been lucky to find a great community, including ultra long distance hounds Mike Carew and Mary Sweat, not to mention local legends Kevin Palmer, Darren Kling, and Jefferey Anspach. In Bend I have found a group of pro triathletes and uber talented swimmers that I swim with on Saturdays. Occasionally I make an appearance in Bend to swim with COMA and Coach Bob Bruce. Bob Bruce is passionate and organized like nobody I’ve ever been around in swimming. I also play a ton of pickleball. I use my swimming as a physical and mental meditation, whereas pickleball is all about having fun and being social. It sure is weird how having your head in the water all the time makes socializing difficult. And last but not least, my lifetime swimming goals are to swim my age in the 100 yard free (I figure I’m about 14 years away), and to one day finally beat Jamie Proffitt in the 1500 at Elk Lake.