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Masters team attracts talent

Swimmers from all over flock to the water with Santa Clarita Masters

Posted: June 10, 2009 10:18 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
They come from all over.

Not just different cities and careers, but also levels of experience.

But no matter the skill level, the Santa Clarita Masters swim team has given athletes the opportunity to hit the pool for myriad reasons.

Among them, a chance to give back.

This rings particularly true for Brian Roney, a qualifying member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that boycotted the Games in Moscow, who has spent time as a coach for the Masters team and now swims among its ranks.

“It is a lot of fun reaching out to swimmers, particularly someone who doesn’t feel confident about their skills,” said Roney, his thoughts turning to people like Robert Tyminski, a math teacher at Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield, who travels to Santa Clarita for practices. “I’m mean, that is dedication. They are so hungry for (instruction).”

Tyminski started swimming competitively for the first time in his newly found career back in February, he said.

“It is great experience. You just want to do the right stuff and mimic what they do,” said Tyminski of learning from the more experienced swimmers. “We support each other. That is important. Brian was a lot of help. Then Laurie (Bossard) came in and took over. It was fun. It was great. ... It is because of (my teammates and coaches) that I decided to compete.”

His hard work paid off when he placed 27th in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 10.83 seconds, and 37th in the 50 freestyle (32.91) at the National Short Course Meet held in Clovis on May 7.

After shuffling through head coaches for the first five years of the team’s existence, Bossard took over and has given the city-run team a newfound direction.

“I’ve been at this for two months now and we have increased our membership by about 40 percent,” she said. “If we keep growing, within a year we could be self-sufficient and we can annex ourselves from the city (of Santa Clarita). That is the direction (the city) would like to go. They just want to make sure it succeeds.”

With nine practices weekly, including morning and evening workouts at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, the program is for 18-year-olds and up, and it now has 40 members, Bossard said.

“It is for everyone, for whatever your swimming ability,” Bossard said. “Whether you are just trying to get fit and be healthy, or if you were a competitive swimmer, we can help you. I gear the workouts to accommodate all levels of swimmers.”

Another person who has found her competitive outlet with the Masters is Cheri Ellington, a Santa Clarita resident since 1991 who works as an ocean lifeguard in Santa Monica.

A former collegiate and club swimmer, Ellington also had an exceptional national meet, placing second in the 200 individual medley (2:45.71) and sixth in the 1,000 freestyle (12:37.63).

Though a competitor, Ellington too gives back, helping her team when she can.

“Especially in swim meets,” she said. “I like to help them if they approach me to ask for help. During the workouts you usually swim in different lanes, but sometimes there is an opportunity.”

Even as someone with a great deal of swimming experience under her belt, Ellington said there is something for everyone.

“If you like to experience new things, you like group camaraderie, you have the flexibility and different workouts,” she said. “If you are trying the sport (for the first time), you have a coach that will point you in the direction of a stroke. Laurie can help. We are all adults. You will push yourself. You get the opportunity to challenge yourself, especially when you have get up at 5 in the morning.”

For people like Tyminski, the challenge began with getting into the pool.

“Before, I didn’t know I liked it,” he said. “The way it started was I had a little back problem. I went to the doctor and he said to go swim. I asked, ‘How? I’ve never done it.’

“‘I don’t care how, just do it,’ he told me.”

Luckily for Tyminski, people like Roney, Bossard and Ellington decided to keep their careers alive.

“It is just nice to hear the stories,” Roney said. “It makes giving back to the sport worth it when you see guys like that succeed.”


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