UCSD Masters Swimming | Covid Workouts
UCSD Masters Swimming | Covid Workouts
Update from Ronald ‘Sickie’ Marcikic, Head Coach
The UCSD Masters Swimming program was founded in 1983 by the head coach, me (Sickie). I was not thinking that the program would be relevant on campus almost 39 years later and I would still be the Head Coach though. We have weathered our share of hardships through the years, but with a clear vision for the direction of the program, we continued to be a vital part of the Recreation department and the surrounding San Diego community. To enable this program to prosper into the future, however, there is a need to set up an endowment for the next masters head coach, whoever that may be. That is the task ahead of us. I always feel privileged to have an opportunity to show how important our program is to our supporters. During this pandemic, it became even more clear to me how important a connection to our participants would really be, and how our program has made a huge difference in their lives. During the 4 months we were in shut down mode and campus was closed, I sent out a daily email to our participants, called the ‘E-KnEwS’. There are over 500 people on this mailing list, so we would reach current and past supporters as well.
Every Memorial Day we usually celebrated the lives our fallen comrades with a beach swim, but this year we had personal photos, with swimmers holding placards with their friend’s names on it instead. Each day, one of these athletes would be the focal point of the E-KnEwS, in the coming weeks. There have been 20 athletes who have passed away while part of our program since 1983.
The ‘E-KnEwS’ also covered many different topics, from swimming tips, health and nutrition information to funny side-lines, jokes and semi-non serious topics of interest. There were reports from swimmers of where to swim safely, who to connect with for ocean swims and many pictures from past program events (our annual banquet, pancake breakfasts, etc). This gave our swimmers a connection to each other as well as our program and me.
We finally opened for workouts on July 7, 2020, and the daily ‘E-KnEwS’ moved to a weekly one. Our program was the only Recreation program open to adults from both the campus and surrounding San Diego community. We offered 3 morning workouts and 2 evening workouts, with swimmers in every other lane (10 swimmers/workout). One of the highlights of the 6:00am workout was always the daily sunrise.
Soon after, we moved to 1 swimmer in each lane, which gave us 19-20 lanes for swimmers to reserve for their workouts. It was a welcome addition, and everyone was excited to be back in the water, swimming with their friends. Our roster grew to over 280 swimmers. We were also supported by a strong Recreation student staff, who would check the swimmers into the pool, clean the chairs after each use and take off pool tarps when the fall quarter started.
To show our appreciation, we had a ‘THANK YOU STAFF’ snack raising effort for the students at the pool. For one week, our participants brought in snacks of every variety, for the staff to munch on throughout the coming weeks. The ‘goodies’ people brought in packed the front clerk station full of ready to eat snacks that lasted for weeks.
We also played music at every workout, which helped to provide a positive and uplifting atmosphere that our swimmers enjoyed while they swam. Individual workout baggies were provided each day for each swimmer, so they knew what they were going to do and there was always a table of chocolates for the swimmers after each workout.
To offer something different and unique, there were special GAME DAY WORKOUTS, where swimmers had to perform different and safe on-deck games before they got into the pool, that dictated their workout. We normally would do this while they waited in line to get into the pool. In keeping with some of our traditional events, we hosted our always fun FESTIVUS workout, with a pole and pool mascot ‘Buddy’.
We also continued to collect toys for our Annual Holiday Toy Drive for homeless children in San Diego. Two of our swimmers donated $10,000 for toys for homeless families, computers for foster children so they can go to school and cash support for low- income families. He and his wife have been consistent donators to our Annual Holiday Toy Drive for years.
Even though the pandemic severed our ties to each other for a few months, with the return of workouts to Canyonview, our supporters have rallied and returned with a strength of conviction, enthusiasm and hope. We have had over 8,000 ‘swims’ these past 6 months and will continue to serve our campus and San Diego community into the future. I cannot thank them enough for bringing back my sanity as well. Thank you for decades of support!