In 2015, my curiosity was piqued when I saw some very fast short course meters (SCM) 1500 times entered in the USMS database early in the year. The meet listed for the times was “The Olympic Club 1500 Meter Meet.” The Olympic Club is located in downtown San Francisco in the Union Square district. First named “San Francisco Olympic Club,” it is the oldest athletic club in the United States, established on May 6, 1860. Talk about history!
Annually held on the last Saturday in January, The Olympic Club 1500 (commonly abbreviated as TOC 1500) conflicted with the Oregon Chehalem Short Course Yards Meet which has also been held on that same weekend for quite a few years. So, I had to make a decision to skip the Chehalem meet in 2016 to attend TOC 1500. I hated to miss the Chehalem meet and visiting with all of my Oregonian friends, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed in my decision! The Olympic Club pool is fast, the competition at the event is deep, and the facility is absolutely amazing.
It is very uncommon, outside of national championship events, to have nearly 100 people all swimming the 1500 freestyle. With that many people participating, the heats are extremely competitive all the way across the pool. In smaller meets that offer the 1500 freestyle, it’s common to see a spread of several minutes separating people, sometimes even in adjacent lanes. However, at TOC 1500, the entire field in the first few heats normally finishes within a few seconds of each other. This makes for a great racing atmosphere!
As most of you probably know, at any meters events your age is determined as of December 31st. So given that this meet is SCM and in January, it draws a lot of people with birthdays later in the year who are aging-up to a new age group and looking to take advantage of this rule.
The most notable swim in the 2016 Meet was Laura Val’s multiple world-record setting effort. Laura’s birthday is late in the year, so her true age was 64 at the time of the swim, but she was competing in the 65-69 age group. Laura put in split requests for the 200, 400 and 800 and successfully swam her way to 4 world records: 200m (2:25.41), 400m (5:06.74), 800m (10:34.67), and the 1500m finish (20:21.61)!
After attending in 2016, I knew I wanted to come back in 2017. As it turned out, this year the Chehalem meet was a no-go due to a massive renovation project on the pool, so I decided to try to recruit some Oregon friends to come down to TOC 1500 instead.
My recruiting was successful, and this year there were four Oregon Masters Swimmers entered in the event: Barry Fasbender, David Hathaway, Scot Sullivan and myself (Matt Miller). Barry and his wife Alice are new to Oregon, moving to Medford this winter, but are not at all new to Masters Swimming. Barry was very active in the Pacific Masters LMSC for many years and has volunteered at the national level for a number of years. Notable work and achievements of Barry’s include directing the FINA Masters World Championships at Stanford in 2006, and earning the high honor of the Capt. Ransom J. Arthur Award in 2008. We’re happy to have Barry here in Oregon and I’m especially happy because Barry and I share the same pool in the mornings at Superior Athletic Club in Medford. Welcome to Oregon, Barry and Alice!
Barry, David, Scot and I got to witness two new 1500 SCM world record swims: Heidi George, women 40-44, at 16:59.56; and Bruce Thomas, men 60-64, at 18:07.65. We all had very good swims ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed cooling down and playing in the practice pool and hot tub after our swims. We also walked around the breathtaking facility to take it all in. It’s truly an amazing place with a long and rich history. The $25 entry fee for the event is a deal just to get into the building to see the place!
If you’re interested in swimming TOC 1500 in 2018, be sure to register early because the event normally fills quickly. Registration normally opens in mid-to-late November and a link to registration will appear on the Pacific Masters Event Schedule: http://www.pacific-masters.org/pacm/schedule
I’m hoping to see more Oregonians attend this meet in the future. It really is an event every distance swimmer should have on their bucket list.