Few students know that Pierce has a short-course meter swimming pool where adults of all ages who love to swim gather for a splash of fun.
Everyday you can find the Southwest Aquatic Masters swim team practicing in rain or shine with coach, Fred Shaw, a three-time NCAA Division I Championship Team member for USC, with 20 years experience in Masters Swimming.
Shaw was also the 1994 Community College Coach of the Year and is currently Pierce’s head swim coach. SWAM is a chartered swim team affiliated with the United States Masters Swimming through its local association, Southern Pacific Masters.
USMS was founded in 1970 and since has more than 500 local swim clubs across the nation and hosts short course and long course yard swim championships each year.
Contrary to what most believe, SWAM is not a part of Pierce’s regular swimming classes, but is an advanced group of swimmers who team-up and compete at the national and local levels against other Masters Swim teams around Southern California.
Anyone can join but they need to know how to swim freestyle. In addition to having to meets, there are also ocean swims during the spring and summer and dual meets, where one team competes against one from another school. Medals are given to the team that wins followed by a celebratory dinner.
When rumors of a budget cut surfaced in the early 90s, Pierce’s team, which began as the “El Camino Swim Club,” was created to keep the swim program running. They later changed their name to SWAM in October of 1993.
Roughly 60 people pay their $59 a month dues, which pay for the lifeguards and coaching. The swimmers range from students to attorneys and triathletes to highway patrol officers. One man on the team, the eldest, is 76 years-old but has the body of a man in his 30s.
“Some of these people haven’t missed a morning in seven or eight years and they’re in great shape,” said Shaw. “Swimming is easier on your joints. It’s non-impact. You’re not banging your knees or your hips.”
He added, “I was working out myself here since the late 80s.”
There are three different groups of swimmers, varying from ages 18 and older, who meet at specific times each week for an hour to train with one of the three Pierce coaches. The noon group meets every weekday and has the largest number of swimmers, the 6 a.m. group meets every Monday and Wednesday and the 6 p.m. group meets every Monday through Thursday.
“Some of the Pierce students have gotten really good by racing some of these guys,” Shaw said.
The next Masters meet will be held in Las Vegas in January.
Shaw said, “We have a lot of fun.”
For those who are serious about improving their swimming skills or are interested in swimming for the college team, contact Fred Shaw at (818) 347-1637 or e-mail him at SwamFred@applitec.com.