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C.O. adult swim club with a ‘history of excellence’ welcomes swimmers of all skill levels

(Update: adding video, comments from swimmers, board member)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Elite-level swimming in Oregon is not just for the kids.

Central Oregon Masters Aquatics (COMA) is home to national champions and state record-holders, and they do it all in their free time.

 The club welcomes everyone, from the ultimate competitor to someone looking to try something new.

Jacob Swinn is a swimmer and board member for COMA.

“Outside of work, this is where I spend most of my time, which I don’t know is always great,” Swinn said jokingly. 

COMA is a swim club of more than 150 adults, ranging from 18 to 100 years old.

Swinn said the club is the perfect spot for triathletes, former competitive swimmers and people new to the sport.

“This team has a pretty long history of that type of excellence,” Swinn said.

At a meet in Portland earlier this month, the club broke 17 Oregon state records, 13 North West Zone records -- and a world record.

“Pretty much every meet, there's some kind of record being broken,” Swinn said.

Gillian Salton, a former collegiate swimmer, won the 200 backstroke at the 2016 Nationals with COMA.

“For one brief shining moment of my life, I got to be a national champion,” Salton said.

However, she said for her and other members, winning is not the only reason they're involved.

“You know, I’ve always been a swimmer and I’ve always liked to swim. But honestly, it's hard to swim without friends,” Salton said on her decision to join COMA. 

Matt Craven, a teacher and coach at Bend High, decided to join the club after he turned 40, with no competitive swimming experience.

“It really, really offers a great social scene.” Craven said. “Besides just getting in shape and being in good swim shape there's something different about being in good swim shape.”

Craven had to look past the name and feel comfortable joining.

“Part of the intimidating factor of doing masters swimming is first of all the name -- it's a little bit of a misnomer,” Craven said. “‘Masters,’ like you have to be amazing when you show up. I definitely wasn’t, to be honest with you. I could freestyle, kind of.”

He’s since learned different strokes, maintained good health and made a new group of friends.

Salton advises everyone, from beginner to world record-holder, to hop in.

“The bar is very low if you like to swim back and forth and want some people to do it with, I encourage you to come try it out,” she said. 

COMA will host the state championships this May at Juniper Swim and Fitness Center.

It also has a group traveling to Irvine, Calif., next month for the National Championships.

Article Topic Follows: Sports

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.


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