40 Years of Masters Swimming
by Amy Schiller
Did someone say pool party? On July 1st, 2023, UC San Diego Recreation celebrated 40 years of Masters Swimming on the Triton Pool Deck. New and long-time participants were in attendance, enjoying Hawaiian BBQ, beverages, surf music and their friends in this Masters Swim fitness and lifestyle community.
The Masters Swim program has attracted fitness swimmers as well as top athletes from San Diego for over four decades. Led by coach Ron "Sickie" Marcikic since its inception, the program has included world class triathletes, ex-Olympians, as well as world and national champions. Coach Sickie has prepared more than half a dozen folks to successfully swim the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, Lake Tahoe, around Manhattan and the Maui channel. How does he do it? With a lot of humor and his charismatic “Sickie” personality, he makes the hour-and-a-half swim workout at 6am fun. In his arsenal of playfulness you’ll find Marcikic wearing wild clothes, preparing imaginative workout activities, using demonstrative deck tactics, throwing ice in lanes, showcasing his goofy facial expressions, and on occasion wearing a costume or two.
Community is the key to decades of success, and Coach Sickie is intentional about that with his workouts. His goal at every workout is for each swimmer to fully engage with the entire group and that is a critical part of building the camaraderie that makes UCSD Masters Swim what it is today. Marcikic has built the program into a community with bonds that have led to 14 marriages, with families of kids growing-up together. Many of his participants have been in the program with him for the whole span of 40 years. Coach Marcikic says, “I have one swimmer in our program today who I coached in 1973 at age 11.”
While you don’t have to compete when you are involved in a Masters swim program, there are plenty of individuals in the UCSD Recreation program who do. According to Cathy Ganze, a program participant since 2013, “Competitions are really fun while also being competitive. The camaraderie at the swim meets is the most important part and the medals are beautiful because they often reflect the cities where the meets are being held. But the most fun of all are the relays because it's a group effort and everyone wants to do well and not let the other relay members down. The relays generate a lot of excitement and make us act like kids again.”
Started in 1983, the Masters Swim program offers weekday workouts starting at 6am and 7:30am, as well as evening and weekend workouts which are available for adults of all fitness levels. Whether you’re a swimmer who craves community, wants high level swim workouts, or you are a seasoned athlete of 60 years, there’s a home for you here. Take the opportunity to glean from our amazing coaching staff, and enjoy the excellent benefits of this low impact, high cardio activity to elevate your fitness. Join the UCSD Recreation Masters Swim program and you’ll see why people come for the workout and stay for the experience.