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by Author Unknown

July 19, 2000

Publicizing and enjoying Masters swimming

Once upon a time there was a young boy who lived in Trinidad and swam faster than all the other children (and most of the fish) who inhabited the small Caribbean Island. To challenge himself, the boy traveled to a place far from his homeland and trained with the Mission Viejo Nadadores and then at a small private college in Malibu. When his college swimming days were over, the barefoot boy from Trinidad had, on the surface, been transformed into a young man from Malibu, but alas, deep inside, felt lost and displaced.

Fortunately for the young man, he found his way down the coast to the Palisades Y where he was immediately taken in by the head Masters coach. The young boy thrived in the warm and friendly atmosphere created by this special coach and vowed to one day follow in his footsteps. As time passed, a special bond was created between coach and swimmer and they bestowed upon each other the nicknames, "Coachie" and "Mambo."

From 1976 to 1986, "Coachie" Rick Goeden, built the Palisades Masters program from scratch to a successful 100-plus member club. He was famous for his enthusiastic workouts and positive atmosphere. "Burned-out" college swimmers with achy shoulders found their way to him, as did senior citizens with no prior swimming experience. All were treated with equal respect and all became better swimmers and better persons for having known him. After 10 years at the Palisades Y, he chose the rustic town of Ojai as his next challenge. He started with no Masters swimmers in 1987 and now has over 120 swimmers. Rick's Ojai teams have won four consecutive SPMA Short Course Yards Championships and have won back-to-back National Men's SCY team titles (small team) at De Anza and Federal Way.

And what of "Mambo" (a.k.a. Gerry Rodrigues )? Well, true to his word, he set out to make his mentor proud. He started his coaching career with a small team of Malibu residents who were continually frustrated by being shut out of their pool for four months each year. This spirited, yet often waterless group, hung together for two years before "Mambo Gerry" took on a bigger challenge as co-director of the 500-plus member Southern California Aquatic Masters which he coached for three years before moving on to the UCLA campus to start the Bruin Masters in 1995. In just over two years, Gerry has developed the Bruin Masters from ground zero to over 200 active members and has led his team to two straight SCM Championship team titles by using the creative coaching strategy of convincing (some might say "brainwashing") his entire team to enter, and complete without disqualification, the unpopular 200-meter butterfly. To quote one of Gerry's swimmers about this experience:

I entered the program a senior citizen who could barely swim. Gerry made me feel a part of the team, made me a swimmer, and made me set goals. With encouragement, I made the commitment to swim the 200-meter butterfly in the regional championship at Cerritos. And yes, this 67 year-old rookie swimmer did it! It gave me a great satisfaction and new self esteem. I could have done it only with Gerry's coaching, encouragement and guidance. (Lowell Offer)

In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Gerry is also the co-publisher of three swimming publications, SWIM magazine, Swimming World magazine, and Swimming Technique and through his efforts, Masters swimming has received extensive media coverage in local and national publications such as the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, ALLURE magazine, and American Health magazine. Congratulations Gerry on a job well done!

from Swimmer's Source, winter issue, 1998