Swimmer's Ear
Newsletter of the Potomac Valley Masters Committee
September 2015

    Newsletter Schedule printed 3 times a year
  • January (deadline: December 15)
  • May (deadline: April 15)
  • September (deadline: August 15)
    Newsletter Editor
  • Cheryl Wagner
  • phone: 202-387-2361
  • fax: 202-478-0948
  • email: cherylw46@yahoo.com

  Note from the Chair

PV Swimmers,

Yet another summer passes, hopefully most of you enjoyed some outdoor swims! Thank you to all of those who had the chance to join in on the annual picnic, we had 80+ people sign up! We had a great LC nationals in Ohio, there was a good showing of PV Swimmers who participated; it was an enjoyable pool and my hope is everyone achieved what they wanted whether a personal best, catching up with friends, or simply participating at a national level competition. One of the things that your PV Board has been hard at work doing is updating our Bylaws, viewable here, or the link is provided on the PV website. Please feel free to comment between now and our annual meeting where we'll ratify the changes. The meeting will be held on October 25th after the GMU Sprint Classic swim meet. As this is an election year, your voice and participation is always appreciated. Looking forward to seeing everyone in the water over the fall and winter. -- John Carlson

PV logo

  Articles & Interviews

Patrick Donahue with kayakers Nancy Edmonds (L) and Linda Fabian (R)
Interview with Patrick Donohue
by Cheryl Wagner

Patrick Donahue had a good year. He received the PV award for Male Top Performer LCM 2014, took 1st place in the Potomac River Swim, and 3rd place overall in the Chesapeake Bay Swim. He also achieved USMS All American in 2014. The photo shows Patrick flanked by Potomac Swim kayakers, Nancy Edmonds and Linda Fabian. Two kayakers volunteered to support him so that says something about his charm. Here is an interview with Patrick Donahue.

Where are you from and how did you start swimming and competing?
Patrick: I grew up in Columbia, MD and started swimming year-round when I was four as my parents were trying to control an overly energetic child. I joined the Howard County YMCA and swam there for many years before joining the Retriever Aquatic Club based out of UMBC. I swam at Villanova in college.

How did you get started in Masters Swimming?
Patrick: Several years ago, I started doing triathlons. I would do really well on the swim and would then have people 30 years my senior offering encouragement as they passed me on the run. It was somewhat demoralizing. About three years ago, I joined a swim group coached by John Flanagan at Hanes Point in D.C. In addition to coaching masters, John coaches a club team and many of his former swimmers come back from college in the summer to train. I absolutely loved training with the ‘kids’ but realized that I had to swim everyday if I had a prayer of keeping up with them; so I dropped the biking and running and now focus solely on swimming.

How did you get interested in open water?
Patrick: My first open water swim was the 1995 Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim. The event was a fraction of what it is today with less sophistication in terms of water support and knowledge of how to time the currents. Just over 10 percent of the entrants finished that year as the start was timed perfectly for the current to peak right when we hit the center spans. After that race, I tapered for 15 years with my next open water swim being the 2010 Bay Swim.

Talk a little about competing in the Potomac River Swim and the Chesapeake Bay Swim.
Patrick: The Potomac River Swim and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim are two completely different events. The Potomac River Swim is a really intimate event with approximately 50 entrants. The entire event feels less like a race and more like a family affair. The evening prior to the race there is a spaghetti dinner served by a local community group and the event concludes the following day with a great bar-b-que also staffed by local volunteers. The setting is beautiful and the event is really well run. Depending on the year, the conditions can be tough with strong currents and large chop. The focus is more about completing the swim than where you place. It’s a great weekend with fellow swimming enthusiasts and a bunch of really nice people who support the event. I highly recommend trying this race at least once.

The Bay Swim has more of a big event feel with hundreds of support boats, helicopters flying overhead and over 600 hundred entrants – many of whom are focused on placing rather than just finishing. The start is brutal with the field split into two waves for a beach start – everyone gets beat-up for the first 200 meters; but after that the field spreads out and it becomes a nice enjoyable swim. It’s a great swim for people doing the first long open water swim as the bridge spans really help with siting. The post-race atmosphere is also great. You come up a hill and are greeted by a large group of spectators cheering for all the finishers.

What are you goals for future swims?
Patrick: I actually really enjoy the training more than competing, with events serving as primarily a motivator to get me to the pool and make me push myself in practice. With that said, I’ve thought about trying some longer races such as the race around Manhattan, or one of the Eight Bridges Swims on the Hudson River.

Wyatt Bradbury
Seven Drills for a More Efficient Breaststroke
by Wyatt Bradbury

UMAC Masters coach, Wyatt Bradbury, describes seven drills for a more efficient breaststroke.

1. Two Kick Breaststroke
Breaststroke is all about timing and body position. This drill works on both. Swim Breaststroke normally with your feet kicking your hands forward as they should. That kick should drive you downward as you undulate. Now in perfect streamline, snap a second kick feeling the glide and surge. You will feel any drag your kick creates as you should be under the surface. A glide follows your second kick as you lead into your next cycle. Kick out of and into each cycle with the cadence Pull-kick-gliiiide-kick-gliiiide-Pull.

2. Moose Drill
This drill works on the timing in the stroke. It is best done with a snorkel on to keep the body in perfect line. As you bring the heels up in your kick, bring your hands to the side of your head quite literally like moose antlers. As your hands reach your head and your heels reach the apex of the kick (at the same time) snap your kick and shoot your hands forward. Don’t worry about bringing your hands together. Stay in a perfectly horizontal body position as you shoot your hands forward simulating recovery as you snap your kick. Start slow and work up the speed as you get more comfortable.

3. Breaststroke with Flutter Kick
This drill is a speed drill that helps you accelerate your arms through the pull into the recovery. The drill is best done wearing fins. Swim breaststroke kicking a six-beat flutter kick. Time your pull to the kicks surging with each stroke. Strokes should be rapid, fast, and with a high intensity. Keep from dropping the elbows making sure that each stroke is done well albeit with fast acceleration. Shoot the hands forward.

4. Breaststroke with Dolphin Kick
This drill works on the undulation aspect to breaststroke. Again, fins are recommended as it helps exaggerate the motion of the hips. As you kick fly, execute a normal breaststroke pull ensuring that you rise above and then dive below the surface of the water with the kicks. I recommend two or three kicks per pull to ensure the full range of motion. As with the Flutter Kick Drill, keep the elbows up and don’t pause during the breath. Keep the hands moving, accelerating through the stroke. Get the hips and butt to the surface of the water as you shallowly dive down kicking into your next stroke.

5. Paddle Catch
Take your Strokemaker (or similar style) paddles but do not put them on. You will swim breaststroke holding the paddles by the top or bottom, fingers wrapped over the edge. The paddles will be pressed against your forearms, effectively locking your wrist. As you swim breaststroke, you will feel a surge from the paddles launching you out of the water if done correctly. The paddles will press your body up and you will feel yourself being pushed up on the pull phase due to the paddles extending the surface area of your arms/hands. This will only work so long as you do not pause with your hands under your shoulders or pull underneath your shoulders or body. This drill will exaggerate your correct motions.

6. Shallow Water Walking Breaststroke
This drill can only be done in 3-4 feet of water. This drill is completely about feel. Simply put, you will walk across the pool doing the motion of your breaststroke arms. The objective is to have your body guide you through the correct arm position in the water. At UMAC, we work a great deal on high elbows and, in breaststroke particular, not letting them drive back past your shoulders. This drill will allow you to feel the correct position. As you step and your body rises in the water, allow your hands to go through the motion of the pull. You will feel them surge through a “sweet spot” as your body rises and lowers with the step.

7. One Leg Kick Drill
Who Struggles on Kick? This is a fun and challenging drill that will make you feel the motion and connect your brain from brain to toe. With a kickboard, we are going to kick breaststroke with one small difference. You can only use one leg at a time. That’s right, the other leg must stay straight and stationary while you are going through the normal motion with the other. The goal is not speed, intensity, or even doing the kick perfectly. The objective is to connect the input (what you think) with the feel (what you think is happening) with the motion (what is actually happening). The goal is to feel your heel coming back, toes fanning out, and leg snapping back (not out!) as you kick. Do a couple of 25s with each leg before putting it back together. For a challenge, put your hands behind your back as you do this, trying to kick your heel to your hand.

Please share any feedback or ask any questions you might have. Keep training hard and swimming fast!

Coach Wyatt Bradbury, UMAC Masters, wbradbur@terpmail.umd.edu

Cooling Off in the Tidal Basin
photo and text from http://blogs.weta.org/boundarystones/2015/07/21/cooling-tidal-basin

The WETA blog site, "Boundary Stones", describes a time when the tidal basin in DC, was a public swimming beach. Here is an excerpt from WETA Highlights August 24-30, 2015.

"It may be hard to imagine today, but for a brief period following World War I the Tidal Basin was the most popular swimming hole in Washington. Led by a push from Senator George Norris of Nebraska, Congress appropriated $35,000 to chlorinate the water and construct a bathing beach in the area now occupied by the Jefferson Memorial. The beach opened with a water carnival on August 24, 1918 and was an instant hit. People lined up for blocks to take a dip and it was Washington’s place to see and be seen... as long as you were white. Like many other public facilities of the Jim Crow era, the new swimming hole was whites-only."
Swimmers at the Tidal Basin



Potomac Valley Annual Awards Picnic - May 30, 2015

Congratulations to Potomac Valley Masters 2014 Award Recipients. And many thanks to Awards Chair, Jen Carlson.

Short Course Yards, 2013-2014 Season

  • Female Swimmer of the Year - Leslie Livingston (GMUP)
  • Male Swimmer of the Year – Jarryd Botha (UNAT)
  • Female Top Performers - Katie McWilliams (ALEX), Margot Pettijohn (ANCM)
  • Male Top Performers – Hugh Roddin (ANCM), Neill Williams (DCAC)

    Short Course Meters, 2014 Season
  • Female Swimmer of the Year - Margot Pettijohn (ANCM)
  • Male Swimmer of the Year – Neill Williams (DCAC)
  • Female Top Performers – Mollie Grover (TERR), Joan Pfinsgraff (TERR)
  • Male Top Performers – Blake Holden (TERR), Clay Britt (ANCM)

    Long Course Meters, 2014 Season
  • Female Swimmer of the Year - Margot Pettijohn (ANCM)
  • Male Swimmer of the Year - Fred Hviid (GERM)
  • Female Top Performers – Rachael Burnett (UNAT), Joan Pfinsgraff (TERR)
  • Male Top Performers – Patrick Donahue (UNAT), Neill Williams (DCAC)

    Female Long Distance Award - Katie McWilliams (ALEX)

    Male Long Distance Award – Stephan Rodiger (NCYM)

    Female Go the Distance Award – Beverly Kelley (TRI3)

    Male Go the Distance Award – Michael Boyle (RMST)

    Female Postal Swimmer Award –Jane Woo (UNAT)

    Inspirational Swimmer Award – Don Alexander (MASH)

    Outstanding Mentor Award – Blake Holden (TERR)

    Debbie Morrin-Nordlund Volunteer Award – Juliette deSousa (DCRP)

    PHOTOS: http://www.pvmasters.org/~newsletter/Sep-15/PV-awards/

    Mary Lathram Turns 100

    The Potomac Valley board voted to make a $100 donation to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in honor of long-time Potomac Valley champion swimmer, Mary Lathram's 100th birthday.

    Mary's daughter, Elizabeth Gillespie, submitted photos of Mary's party.
    Mary Lathram and daughter
    Here’s a picture of mom and me at the party.
    Mary Lathram and family
    Here’s a group picture of some of her family and friends.


  •   Humor


    Exercising can add years to your life. This enables you, in old age, to spend additional time in a nursing home at $7000 per month. If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

      Meet News


    28th Annual Jim McDonnell Lake Swim

    Photo by Allyson Adams

    Presenting the 28th Annual Jim McDonnell Lake Swim - a weekend tradition for the love of open water in Reston, Virginia!

    Article by Julian Galan: http://www.swimspire.com/reston-masters-jim-mcdonnell-lake-swim/

    Potomac River Swim - June 6, 2015

    Potomac River Swim Start

    27 swimmers completed the 7.5 mile Potomac River Swim on June 6, 2015. Two additional swimmers completed part of the course. Patrick Donahue (wetsuit) was the first swimmer on the beach in a time of 2 hr 45 min 28 sec. Rob Jones, the first non-wetsuit competitor, was the second swimmer on the beach in a time of 3 hr 4 min 25 sec. PV swimmer, Michele Walters, achieved 2nd place female no-wetsuit in a time of 3 hr 56 min and 46 sec. Conditions were ideal for the this year's swim. Proceeds from the swim are donated to
    • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
    • Southern Maryland Sierra Club
    • Potomac River Association
    • Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin
    • The Potomac Conservancy
    • West Virginia Rivers Coalition
    • Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
    • Ridge Rescue
    • St. Mary's River Watershed Association
    • Friends of the Shenandoah River
    Many thanks to the kayakers who supported our swim as well as the head timer, Glenn Rempe, and the boaters and other support personnel.
    RESULTS: http://www.potomacriverswim.com/PRS-15/prs2015-results.htm
    PHOTOS: http://www.potomacriverswim.com/PRS-15/cheryls-photos/

    Terrapin Cup July 10-12, 2015
    PHOTOS: http://www.pvmasters.org/~newsletter/Sep-15/Terrapin-Cup/

    24th Annual Maryland Swim for Life July 11, 2015

    Photo by Joe Stewart

    MORE PHOTOS: http://swimforlife.swimdcac.org/swimforlife/Photos/Photos.html



    Arlington Masters

    photo and article by Alison Mathey

    Arlington Masters had a great turnout at their annual barbecue. Many thanks to Jayme Swain and Steve Studley for hosting a record number this year! The pulled pork was delicious too.

    National Qualifying Times for USMS National Championships

    by Charlie Tupitza

    I was recently asked about how one might qualify for Summer and Spring Nationals if you didn’t have the opportunity to swim in a meet offering the events you wish to qualify in. Good news!

    Where can I swim my times, e.g. does it have to be a USMS meet?

    It can be swum at a USA-S meet, a YMCA meet, or during a time trial or in a workout with your coach.

    What if I swim a time at altitude close to the NQT but slightly slower? Does that make a difference? Yes!! Time achieved at an altitude of 3,000 or higher may be adjusted. The formula for altitude adjustment is in the rulebook at 104.5.3(1). This can be found at https://www.usms.org/rules/part1.pdf

    If I achieve a time in one age group, can I use that time in the next age group when I age up? The NQT is that you have swum the event at the qualifying time within the last two years. There is no requirement on age group (although the older the age group, usually the slower the NQT).

    Charlie Tupitza is the Coach of the Warrenton Masters swim team, a member of the National Championship Committee, and the Chair of the Potomac Valley LMSC Open Water and Long Distance Committee.

    NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo, Washington D.C. Convention Center, January 9-10, 2016

    The DC Health & Fitness Expo, hosted and promoted by NBC4, has been recognized as the best-promoted, best-attended, consumer wellness expo in the nation for over two decades. Leading healthcare companies including CareFirst, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amgen, Washington Hospital Center, Children's National Medical Center and over 200 additional companies of all sizes, consider the event their most important and successful sales and marketing activity of the year.

    Potomac Valley Swimming is sponsoring a booth and needs volunteers. Please contact Christina West, PV Fitness Committee Chair: pvfitness@usms.org

    End of Year Registration Fees

    Attention Club reps and Officers:
    Please see this memo regarding end of year registration fees and a reminder of our board meeting attendance policy. Also, please see the very bottom of this page if you have any questions on the PVLMSC listserve:


    Please note we are having an issue with sending emails to this listserve from a Yahoo or AOL address. If you try to send a message to the listserve from Yahoo or AOL it will not get delivered. Interestingly, if you send from Yahoo or AOL but change your FROM: address to anything else it will get delivered (for instance, you can send an email from your Yahoo mail but change your alias to swimmer123@gmail and it will go through). Please let me know if you'd like to change the address you are subscribed with or have any other questions.

    Thanks, Jeff
    Jeff Roddin, Potomac Valley Registrar for U.S. Masters Swimming

    In Memoriam - John Shrum

    John at the 2004 Chesapeake Bay Swim

    USMS champion and physician, John Shrum, a beloved member of the Charlottesville community, passed away on May 23, 2015 while jogging. He was a U.S. Masters Swimming Open Water National Champion on multiple occasions, swam 27.2 miles around Manhattan in 1983 and 1985, swam the English Channel as part of a relay that included two of his children in 1998, and completed the Bay Swim numerous times. He competed locally in the annual two-mile Chris Greene Lake swim over 25 times, which has been renamed in his honor. John's obituary

    Swim For Engie Against Breast Cancer

    Alexandria Masters hosted a swimathon to raise money for Inova Dwight and Martha Schar Cancer Institute in honor of our teammate, Engie Mokhtar. Engie is battling advanced chronic breast cancer that has metastasized.

    The event was held on August 29, 2015. However interested individuals may still contribute to this crowdrise site for the event: https://www.crowdrise.com/SwimforEngie2015.

    Direct questions to SwimForEngie@gmail.com.

    Thank you,
    Madeline Muravchik, Swim for Engie Against Breast Cancer Event Organizer

    USMS ALTS Instructor Certification, October 17, 2005 Gaithersburg, MD

    The USMS Adult Learn-to-Swim Instructor Certification Program curriculum is based on teaching methods practiced by the leading authorities of ALTS programs nationwide. The most innovative and effective training methods are taught to ensure that certified instructors have the tools necessary to teach an adult to swim, at a minimum, one length of a 25 yard pool and become safer in the water.

    Who should attend?

    • Anyone interested in teaching adults how to swim
    • Staff members and instructors at aquatics facilities that want to offer an adult learn-to-swim program
    • Current USMS membership required
    • You must be able to perform the American Red Cross's Five Skills of Water Competency:
    • Step or jump into the water over your head
    • Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute
    • Turn around in a full circle and find an exit
    • Swim 25 yards to the exit
    • Exit the pool without the use of a ladder
    • $300 (Includes all classroom and in-water instruction, materials, and lunch)
    Check-In: 8:30 to 9 a.m.
    Classroom Instruction: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Lunch: 1 to 2 p.m. (included)
    Pool Instruction: 2 to 4 p.m.

    Instructor: Bill Meier
    Scholarships: Check with your LMSC for scholarship availability.
    Cancellation Policy: Course registrations are nonrefundable and nontransferable to another individual. However, you may transfer your registration to a course at an alternate date and location.

    Classroom Instruction, Saturday, October 17, 2015
    Homewood Suites Washington DC / North Gaithersburg
    805 Russell Avenue
    Gaithersburg, MD 20879

    In-Water Instruction
    Lakeforest Sport and Health
    700 Russell Ave
    Gaithersburg, MD 20877

    Registration closes at midnight PST on Friday, October 16, 2015 or when course enrollment reaches 25.

    Marianne Groenings, Programs and Services Manager, mgroenings@usms.org

    Private Swim Instruction

    I am happy to announce that private swim lessons are once again available to anyone looking to dramatically improve their swimming technique. Our coach, Wally Dicks, will be available this spring and summer to work with you one on one or in small groups. He will also be able to provide video analysys of your strokes. If you are interested in private lessons, you can email me or Wally directly. His email is wallymariner@aol.com.

    There also is information at http://www.claybrittswimming.com/masterstriathletes.html about lessons, Masters workouts and to arrange a private clinic for your team or friends. I’m excited to be able to offer private lessons again and I hope this can benefit you.

    Clay Britt http://www.claybrittswimming.com

    PV LMSC Meeting Minutes - July 25, 2015

    meeting minutes 7-25-15



    Volunteers needed!

    Volunteers needed for the PV Swimming booth at NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo, Washington D.C. Convention Center, January 9-10, 2016

    Please contact Christina West, PV Fitness Committee Chair: pvfitness@usms.org

    UMAC Masters

    Try us for FREE!! – 3 trial practices available.
    Questions? - Coach Wyatt - wbradbur@terpmail.umd.edu
    Administrator Natalie Ferdinand - nferdina@umd.edu
    More Info

    Bonzai Sports

    All things Triathlon -- rental & retail

    Private Swim Instruction

    Clay Britt http://www.claybrittswimming.com

      Photo Credits


    All photos by Cheryl Wagner unless otherwise noted.

      Events Calendar



    Pool Event Calendar



    Long Distance/Open Water Calendar