Name: MJ Caswell
Career: retired/part-time swim coach
Team: Columbia Gorge Masters
I started swimming when I was 10 for the Swim Team of Placentia in California. I loved it, and have lifelong friends from swimming there. I also swam in college at UC Irvine. I swam only occasionally when I was working, more likely to run for fitness, since I could exhaust myself much faster running. In college dual meets, I swam the 100-fly and 200-fly and the 200-free and 500-free, and at our conference meet I swam the 1650. I hated the 200 fly and have yet to swim it as a Masters swimmer.
I worked as a Business Systems Analyst, mostly doing technical project management in Northern California until 2006. I knew that I wanted to swim for fitness when I retired, and having a local Masters team and public pool was one of the reasons we choose the Hood River area for our relocation. Once we started swimming there regularly, we were encouraged to try competing and it was really fun. I got to meet more people in the Oregon Masters swimming community.
Soon after joining Columbia Gorge Masters, I was asked to help with swim lessons for the Parks and Rec department, and then was asked to help coach the swim team. I’ve been coaching part time ever since and I really enjoy it. It’s fun to help kids learn to perfect their strokes, challenge themselves and learn how to cooperate with teammates and have fun swimming. I have had kids I coached as 8-year-olds graduate from college, and have kids I coached in middle school get married. It’s so fun to see my former swimmers and what adventures they are having. Some have come back and now swim with Masters and it’s absolutely wonderful. I learn so much from coaching – about our community, the different challenges kids are facing, and what is most important to them.
My husband, Michael Stephenson and I try to find pools when we travel for fun and fitness, so I have swum in the Montreal Olympic swimming pool, the Royal swimming pool in Edinburgh, Scotland and the pool at Hearst Castle (during a state parks retirement party). Finding unique pools is fun, and trying to understand how they are setup is fascinating. We swam at a pool in Seville, Spain that had writing on the ceiling beam to let you know you were 5 meters from the wall. A pool in Paris had speeds and stroke recommendations for each lane that the locals were completely ignoring.
I love to quilt, read, garden, hike and travel. I have eight nieces and nephews, four great nephews and another on the way! I make baby quilts for all of my nieces and nephews, and for their children as well.
Editor Note: MJ has spent many hours volunteering for OMS, and is currently Top Ten Chair.