Swimmer Spotlight: Sandi Rousseau

Sandi Rousseau
Age 68; Columbia Gorge Masters
Adult Nurse Practitioner/Internal Medicine – Retired

Sandi Rousseau

Sandi Rousseau and husband Tom

I was recovering from back surgery in 1977 and one of the things I was allowed to do was to swim.  I had not been in a pool for some 12 years but went to just do something.  I quickly found swimming on my own was boring, and I was not self-motivated.  On the way out of the pool, I saw a 3×5 index card on the bulletin board that there was a Masters workout at the Beaverton pool once per week.  Masters swimming … what is that … but maybe it is for me?  I went to the first workout, was hooked on swimming with others, and swam in my first Masters meet one month later!

This beginning in Masters led to being a founding member of the Tualatin Hills Barracudas, helping form and serving on the first Board of Oregon Masters Swimming in 1981, getting active at the national level in 1985 when I was to be meet director for the 1986 Long Course Nationals at Mt Hood Community College, and continuing on to serve as USMS Championship Chair for 8 years.

My swimming journey started in Indiana when I was 12 years old and competed on a local YMCA team.  I was a diver and the swim coach approached me about trying out the swim team.  I did and switched to swimming through my high school years.  My biggest honor during those years was being ranked 5th in the nation in the 50 meter fly.

I had always planned to go to Indiana University to study nursing.  While IU had a well-known swim program for men under the direction of Doc Counsilman, it was nonexistent for women, so I did not even consider swimming in college.  The college years passed, I taught nursing at the University of Oregon (now OHSU), became a head nurse at the University of Colorado, and went on to get my Masters of Science and Adult Nurse Practitioner certification at the University of Colorado.  I helped pioneer and integrate its adult nurse practitioner program into the medical clinics at the University and soon found I enjoyed being a nurse practitioner and providing direct care to patients more than the administrative responsibilities of a head nurse.  So after a year of travel in Europe, I moved back to Oregon where I eventually took a position as an NP at Kaiser Permanente.  I had a 23 year career in internal medicine before retiring from Kaiser, and worked part time in pain management until I retired 3 years ago.

My most memorable swimming experience was competing in the first ever International Masters swimming championship in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1984, and winning the 50 meter fly.  I did not take a breath the entire 50!  No way could I do that now!

I have attended 33 US Masters Swimming National Championships from 1981 to the present.  I have been active on numerous USMS committees and was honored with the Capt. Ransom Arthur Award in 2003 for contributions to the development of Masters Swimming.  I continue to serve on the USMS Championship Committee … now practically becoming the ‘historian’ for the committee.  No one on the committee now remembers processing paper entries by hand for our nationals!

I have been married to Tom, my partner in life, for 38 years, and as retirement loomed we moved to Hood River where we own a small pear orchard on 21 acres.  I continue volunteering on the Oregon Masters Board and helped form Columbia Gorge Masters in 2002.  Remember … I need a group to work out with, so I had to get one going here.  We have hiked, backpacked, downhill and cross country skied, and biked for years.  I started stand up paddle boarding three years ago and find that to be fun to be on the river on calmer days.  We enjoy international trips and more recently have visited New Zealand, Japan, and Europe.

I have not competed in Masters swimming as much in the past five years, but I continue to work out and make an appearance at meets periodically.  My journey in Masters Swimming is not anything I would have predicted, but it has been and continues to be one of the best experiences in my life.  It has served me well to stay conditioned, recover from accidents and injuries, and to make volumes of friends in Oregon and across the country.  It has definitely given more back to me than I have given to it.

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