Eight members of a USA Swimming club reunited in San Antonio, Texas
David McCarty didn’t need much persuasion to compete at the 2022 U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship. The Puget Sound Masters member was convinced after a close friend texted him telling him that McCarty was going.
Shortly after landing in San Antonio, Texas, McCarty realized just how great of a decision he had made. He was one of eight swimmers from his old USA Swimming club in Southern California, Aquarius, competing in the meet, some of whom he spotted in baggage claim the day before the meet and hugged. (Aquarius eventually joined with another USA Swimming club to become CLASS Aquatics.)
The group went directly to the Alamo—when in San Antonio, right?—before going to the facility for a warm-up swim and then to the house they had rented for the meet. That’s where the stories about what was going on in their lives began.
“The next thing you know, it’s, like, 10 o’clock at night, and none of us has even shaved yet,” McCarty said on the second day of the meet. “We’re like, ‘We got four days of this. Let’s just slow down and get shaved.’ It’s just been that way ever since. We’ve just been visiting and catching up. It’s just been really phenomenal.”
McCarty’s group included Bob Baldocchi (Rose Bowl Masters), Lynn Barnhart (O2 Performance Aquatics), Anne Forster (DC Water Wizards), Steve Kirkland (Los Angeles Peninsula Swimmers), Joseph Lileikis (Oahu Club Masters Team), Norman Skorge (Oahu Club Masters Team), and Don Smith (Conejo Valley Masters). That’s three members who are still in Southern California and five who spread out.
They stayed connected through a Facebook Group for people who swam for their USA Swimming club and decided to compete at Spring Nationals after Baldocchi posted he was going. McCarty, who says he hadn’t seen some of the swimmers within their group in more than 40 years, learned what was happening from Barnhart’s text message.
“[Swimming] always just keeps us bound together, connected,” McCarty says. “A few of us had been swimming Masters for a bunch of years. Some of us had just started back within the last year or so. There’s a couple of people that are here that aren’t swimming anymore, but they came just for the reunion.
“For us, it’s kind of amazing when you think that we have two people here from Hawaii, one from D.C., one from Washington state, one from Texas, and we all swam in the San Fernando Valley.”
The group cheered for each other during their races. Four of the men swam the 200 freestyle, either competing against each other because they were in the same age group or watching others who were a few years older or younger. During one race, one swimmer commented that the swimmer in the water still had the same stroke.
The former Aquarius members—they decided to call their reunion meet “The Aging of Aquarius”—scored 141 points individually, which would’ve placed 47th among regional clubs, representing their current clubs. However, McCarty says they might create their own USMS club so they can swim together and do relays at a future meet.
But reuniting with his old lanemates was enough for McCarty at Spring Nationals.
“We all started when we were probably less than 10 years old,” McCarty says. “Some of the older people, we were kind of removed by years, so I didn’t really know them as well, so in some ways, I’m kind of getting to know them from scratch. I think this is the start of many more of these. We’re gonna try and get more people next year. It’s just kept us all connected. Swimming, it’s just a collection of really good people.”
- Human Interest