Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mark Braly: Desperately trailing Susan


From page B1 | August 12, 2014 |

If I had a shred of pride left, I wouldn’t tell you about Susan Munn. Susan, 75, was named an All-American by U.S. Masters Swimming for the year 2014.

I spoke with her about this honor, expecting it to be her first. No, it is her 33rd All-American patch since 1984.

She surprised me again when I asked her how long she had been swimming competitively. She started when she joined Davis Aquatics Masters in 1978. Like me, she had never been coached in high school or college, but the similarities end there.

Iron Man Dave Scott, then the DAM coach, encouraged her to try. Since then, what a record!

Thanks to USMS’ useful database, I compared our times. She swam 500 yards in 8 minutes compared to my 12 minutes. Her 100-yard individual medley was 1:37 compared to my 3:04. She did the Lake Berryessa one-mile swim in 36:18 minutes compared to my 1 hour and 5 minutes. And so forth across all the events.

In addition to Susan, DAM had 13 others All-Americans: Sarah Hernandez, Andee Bell, Alex Lee, Amanda Larson, Matt Roper, Greg Menna, Dave Woodruff, Linda Buchanan, Cecily Sprouse, Mark Evans, Kris Hornoff, Andy McPherson and Brett Stone.

Since Susan is in my 75-79 age group, I hoped to get some valuable tips. She told me that every time she aged up to a new age group she sharply increased her swimming honors. I took hope from this. Toward the end of next year I’ll be swimming with the 80-84 group. Then, we’ll kick some wrinkled butt.

More honors: Earlier this month, DAM’s Robert Norris and his wife Roswita were in Montreal competing in the FINA World Aquatic Championships. At last report, Robert was runner-up world champion in two events: 100- and 200-meter backstroke. Robert was briefly the 200 winner after a Japanese swimmer was disqualified, but that penalty later was reversed.

Roswita came in 13th in the 400 individual medley. Congratulations to both.

DAM 40th anniversary bash: The turnout was huge for the recent Davis Aquatic Masters 40th anniversary party at the home of members Jamie Anderson and Jan Illkw several miles south of Davis. The crowd included most of DAM’s current 561 members, which is just shy of the peak membership of 567 in 1985.

This is a beautiful country home in which I evidently looked like I belonged. As I stood by the entrance, people came up to me and asked if I was the host.

I wish, but a distinguished shock of white hair and air of entitlement are not enough.

I noticed, seated across from me, a gentleman with the name tag: Rand Schaal. Seemed familiar. Later, DAM head coach Stu Kahn introduced him as the man who probably has done more for Davis swimming than anyone else.

With his father Ted, the Schaals gave UC Davis a $1.4 million gift in 1998. The result, among other things, is the Olympic-sized swimming complex that bears the Schaal name. Rand was a geology instructor and a swimmer at UCD.

End-of-Summer Splash: One hundred and fifteen swimmers entered DAM’s End-of-Summer Splash swim meet at Schaal Aquatic Complex on Saturday. About 46 of the competitors were from DAM. Two Pacific region records were set by 60-year-old Steve Baxter from Chico in the 50 freestyle (26.92) and 50 butterfly (28.58).

I knew I wouldn’t set any records, so I wore my multi-colored Sporti Prism jammers, a fractal-like design meant to make the wearer stand out. Think bright jagged glass shards that will make you dizzy if you look too long. (These are available on the Iinternet at a deep discount.)

Lacking competition, I did bring home a few firsts. With my bottom thus colorfully covered, many observers may have noticed that I did flip turns throughout my 400 free race — a first for me.

Masters Water Polo: The master’s group of the Davis Water Polo Club is taking the month of August off. The fall Masters session will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 2, and go through Nov. 6 (10 weeks). Coed practices will be Tuesday and Thursday evenings and are tentatively scheduled for 7:45 to 9:15 p.m. at Schaal Aquatic Center.

I’ll soon be putting up leaflets around town where I think there might be water polo players. The fee is $50 for the session and you must be a member of USA Water Polo. You will be able to register online shortly. Visit the club’s Facebook page for more information or email coach Kandace Waldthaler at

Our last two workouts were memorable, as least for me. After a long, dry spell, I got two goals. They were dubious, but I’ll take them anyway.

Darren Spiritosanto pointed at me to go long on a pass. Defensive players mysteriously disappeared. Stuart Dooley, in the goalie cage, seemed to be meditating; so I scored over his head with a slow arc of a shot. When I accused him of an obvious assist even though that usually only comes from your teammates, he denied it. He said he wasn’t expecting a high shot. No, he would have had to raise his arms to get that one.

Chris Maldonado engineered my other goal. Thanks to all.

— Mark Braly usually can be found in an area pool. For more information on DAM or water polo, visit and



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