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The following article on the history of DAM was originally prepared by Verne Scott and produced from early directories, notes, minutes, and recollections of many. It has been edited and updated in places. The original unedited history can be found here.

Note that some of this information is no longer current as it was primarily compiled in the 70s. For example, today's mission statement has been updated to more closely reflect our goals and objectives. 


This history of Davis Aquatic Masters documents some of the experiences and activities of the hundreds of individuals who have been members since the program was organized in 1974. In addition, names of individuals are given of those who have been the prime movers over the years. Additional information at the end of the narrative summarize some information in a more easily read form.


The formal organization of DAM was preceded in the summer of 1973 by four adult swimmers requesting some coaching from Jerry Hinsdale, coach of the University of California, Davis's swimming and water polo teams and of the City of Davis's Amateur Athletic Union's age-group team, Davis Aquadarts. Jerry accommodated them by providing access to the training sessions of the Aquadarts.

In March 1974, Jerry asked Dave Scott if he would be interested in coaching adults. At the time, Dave was a University of California, Davis swimmer and waterpolo player, an aquatics instructor for the City of Davis, and an assistant coach of the Davis Aquadarts. Dave agreed, and arrangements were made to use the university's Hickey Pool five days a week at 5:30 PM.

The first workout at the Emerson (now Civic Center) pool was held on October 7, 1974 at 6:00 PM. Dues were $4 per month.

Along with Dave Scott, the following individuals have served as head coaches for DAM:

Dave Scott

7.25 years

3/74 to 6/81

Jane Scott

3 months

7/81 to 10/81

Ross Yancher

7 years

10/81 to 12/88

Mike Collins

8.5 years

1/89 to 10/97

Don Veress

3 years

1/98 to 11/00

Rick Powers

7.25 years

5/01 to 8/08

Stuart Kahn

13 years

8/08 to 4/21

 Matthew Zachan 2 years + 6/22-present


In March 1974, 11 swimmers showed up to practice at the University of California, Davis's Hickey Pool to inaugurate the DAM program.  By October 28 people were members of DAM, and by November DAM had 52 members. By November 1975, DAM had 104 members and two new assistant coaches.

During spring and summer 1976, membership growth led to an increase in the number of workouts to six per day. Membership increased from 134 in January 1976 to over 400 in 1980. In 1995, 614 swimmers were registered with USMS, making DAM the largest Masters team in the country. By spring 1996 there were nine daily workout sessions plus weekend workouts. In 2014, DAM membership reached an all-time high of 710.

Average yearly enrollment in DAM from 1974-2013

Organization and Management

The growth of the program led to the formation of the first Board of Directors in September 1974. Board members were Dave Danley, President; Doug Matheson, Vice President; Jean Washington, Secretary; Rich Harley, Bob Parsons, Verne Scott, and Dave Scott, Coach.

DAM was incorporated on September 10, 1975. Since 1975, the organization is governed by seven directors who each are elected to two-year terms. The first annual meeting was held on October 6, 1975.

DAM Board of Directors, 1974-2016

During the winter of 1974-1975 the group negotiated with the City of Davis to make DAM a co-sponsored organization of the city and to use the Emerson (now Civic Center) Pool for workouts.

During spring 1977 , the Davis City Council voted, effective July 1, 1977, to assume all pool maintenance costs, but to terminate direct funding to DAM. In response, DAM created a financial director position. Kim Haggard was the first financial director.

In 1985, Sue Milburn led DAM members in negotiating with the city to renovate Emerson pool, increasing the number of lanes to eight and replacing the old deck and pool lighting.

Lillian Rowan Award

In 1992, the Board of Directors established an award in memory of member Lillian Rowan, a long-time member of DAM who passed away in 1990 at the age of 84. It is awarded to a DAM member who has made outstanding contributions both to DAM and to the community and reflect Lillian's motivation, dedication, and achievements as a DAM swimmer. For more information, see appendix H of the DAM Policies & Procedures.

List of recipients of the Lillian Rowan award 1992-2021.

The Volunteer Spirit

During the spring of 1975, Dorothy Scott began a project of collecting DAM photos, clippings and other items which were included in the first of a series of scrapbooks. By 1980 there were 27 scrap books, and more have been added through the efforts of Mary Horton. Mary, as well as Bill Collins were the club's unofficial photographers, documenting social events as well as swim meets. For the 1996 Berryessa swim, Rand Schaal took aerial photos of the race.

Volunteering was developed early on as a trademark of Davis Aquatic Masters. Members often pitched in to do such chores as cleaning Emerson pool, painting the women's locker room, maintaining starting blocks, lane lines, and swim equipment. Energetic Bill Holden, Ross Martin, and Jim Board constructed sturdy wood cabinets to house stroke mechanics charts and George Giannini built a much needed storage shed for the swim equipment. A light over the blackboard and rain shelter for the all important bulletin board added even more class to the "do-it-yourself" swim center.

Don Veress, long-time assistant coach, assumed many of the equipment maintenance duties. During the summer of 1995, he installed an overhead sprinkler/misting system along the front edge of the Civic Pool deck overhang, providing much-needed relief during the summer months to both coaches and swimmers. In the spring of 1996, he organized a volunteer crew to prepare the overhang for completion by city workers.

Hundreds of volunteer hours are provided by members to ensure that the club offers quality Lake Berryessa swims every June. The event director(s) oversee the efforts of a large portion of the membership. The success of their efforts is reflected in the growth of this open water competition.


During the fall of 1974, the DAM newsletter made its debut under editor Mary Kroeger. By October 1975, 19 issues had been distributed. In June, 1990, the DAM monthly newsletter changed its name to The Record Times.

A Swimmer of the Month column and award were instituted in February 1990. An Outstanding Performance of the Month Column and award began in January 1990.

Original Newsletter archive ...More

The Record Times archive ... More

Coach evaluation February 1993 ... More

1994 DAM Handbook | 1994 DAM Handbook (flip animation)

The following individuals served as newsletter editors:

  • Karen Schlegle (1989)
  • Jeff Yoshimoto and Kirk Parrott (1990-1992)
  • Deborah Smith (1992)
  • Cathy West and Jennifer Collins (1993-1995)
  • Gayle Bondurant 
  • Fran Zeman

A web site was launched in March 1996. The original website was created by coach Mike Collins and the first DAM web master, Scott Charlton. It included a brief club history, membership information, workout schedules and locations, articles about technique, sample workouts, meet information, and information on other club activities. It continues to be a source of information for current and prospective DAM swimmers. 


The initial splash of a Davis Aquatic Masters member in AAU competition took place on September 17, 1971 when George Giannini participated in a masters meet in Livermore. Swimming in the 45+ age group, George was cheered on to a 5th place finish in the 1500 meter freestyle by Bob and Diane Cowden and Ken and Janet Kimble.

In December 1973 Jean Washington participated in the Sacramento Pentathlon swim and Jean and Charles Eppleheimer entered a meet in San Mateo. The team's entry into national competition took place in August 1975 when Jean Washington and Doug Matheson participated in the National Long Course Championships in Santa Clara, California. Jean placed in the top six in two events.

Later that autumn, a contingent of 14 DAM members entered a masters meet sponsored by the Marin Aquatic Club. This was the first time that most of these members had participated in a meet. The friendly atmosphere of this meet, in which swimmers of all levels of ability were encouraged, led greater numbers of members to participate in subsequent meets in Petaluma, Sacramento, San Mateo, and Woodland. Following these meets, it became a common to assemble at a local restaurant.

On a windy April 25, 1976, DAM hosted its first sanctioned AAU swim meet at the Davis Community Pool. Steve Ford directed the meet, which was followed by a barbecue. Buoyed by the success of its first meet, DAM hosted another sanctioned meet in August. Dorothy Scott designed the first DAM logo for t-shirts that were sold at the meet

Feeling their oats in local competition, 26 members of DAM traveled to Mission Viejo in May 1976 to participate in the National Short Course Championships. 

In September 1976, 32 DAM members braved frigid waters at the Pacific Association Long Course Championships in Fremont Hills to capture a third place team trophy.

Feeling that diversification was an asset of the DAM program, coach Dave Scott led a contingent of nine DAM swimmers to participate in a triathlon hosted by the Dolphin and South End Rowing Clubs in San Francisco in November 1976. The swim was one mile in Aquatic Cove, a 14 mile bike ride along the Embarcadero, and a five mile run out to the San Francisco Yacht Club and back. The next year, 11 DAM swimmers came home with six turkeys as first place awards.

The big event of 1977 was the first Pacific Association Short Course Masters Swimming Championship hosted by DAM and directed by Verne Scott. Over 300 people attended the event, which was held June 3 - 5. This meet was the largest to date, other than national competitions, and 11 National and 63 Pacific Association records were set. 

DAM continued to host the Pacific Masters Swimming Championship for four more years. In August 1977, a group of DAM members competed in the National Long Course Championships in Spokane, Washington. Verne Scott arranged for transportation, food, and lodging. Special gratitude was extended to Ken Haussler who managed to fly several more swimmers to Spokane via a circuitous route.

1979 DAM Squad at the Masters National Short Course Championships in Mission Viejo, California

Not all of DAM's swimming activities were confined to a pool. Increasing numbers of members challenged themselves in such events as the Aquatic Park Cove Swim, a mile swim held in July in San Francisco Bay; the Santa Cruz Pier Swim in August; and the Dolphin Club Turkey Triathlon in San Francisco in November.

In July 1977, DAM and the Davis Bike Club sponsored a triathlon at Stonegate Lake. A run-bike biathlon was organized by DAM in 1978.

In 1979, the first Davis Triathlon was organized by DAM, directed by Verne Scott and held at Stonegate Country Club. The event attracted 240 individuals participated. The next year 410 entered. In 1981, participation increased to 640 which was considered a maximum for the race venue. The triathlon continued through 1983 with Carol Lane and John Bracchi as co-directors. A "Marshmallow Triathlon" —a 500 yard pool swim and bicycling and running loops around the block— was organized by Ross Yancher in 1984 and 1985.

DAM swimmers at the LC Nationals at Gresham, Oregon in 1982

Berryessa Swim

DAM hosted the first Berryessa Open Water Swim on June 6, 1982. The event director was Missy Le Strange and over 400 swimmers participated in a 2 mile race.

Event directors and participant numbers from 1982-2016

The Berryessa Open Water Swim became an annual event and source of revenue for the club. In 1992 and 1993, respectively, a one-mile swim and a one-mile youth swim were added. In 1996 a 500 yard swim was added for swimmers 10 and under. 

Social and Other Activities

Some of the earliest DAM social events were the Halloween and Christmas parties of 1975. John Striffler graciously sacrificed a turkey for the Christmas bash to go along with the finger food and seasonal beverages.

Mary Horton hosted two parties in 1976. The first, held on the Fourth of July, celebrated the National Championships at Mission Viejo. The second, held on September 25, featured "Char," a pig baked overnight in a charcoal pit under the guidance of John Striffler.

A major out-of-town-event was the bike/car tour of August 7, 1976. Led by Joe Scalmanini, most of the bicyclists completed the 38-mile trip, which began and ended in Occidental, California. Not long after the last cyclist wheeled into town, about 50 masters invaded the Union Hotel for a post-event meal.

An inner-tube water polo tournament held on August 21, 1976. The morning, midday and evening practice groups provided much excitement, weary muscles and tired vocal cords.

A Halloween party held in 1976 at Tom Miller's house attracted many DAM members dressed as fruits and vegetables, pool equipment, members of shady professions, or dressed in not much at all.

After 1981, the number and diversity of social activities increased. Fourth of July celebrations were held at Mary Horton's house and later at the home of Kit Owen. Don Wilson volunteered the use of his home for the Fourth of July celebrations in 1994 and 1995; Mickie Hyde hosted the group in 1996. A series of Christmas parties was held at Gary Goodpaster's home initially, then at Village Homes and later at Betty Dugan's.

Other social events have included chocolate and beer tastings, Easter egg hunts for the kids, Cinco de Mayo swim meets and pizza parties, dinner dancing, white water river rafting, ski trips, ice skating, disco and square dancing, early morning breakfasts and after-practice suppers, and end of summer parties at Patti Gay's home. Stan Dundon and Chris Cipperly hosted several Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which often followed an intra-squad swim meet.

Social events continue with two team picnic BBQs a year and the annual holiday party and awards banquet each December.

DAM Anniversary Celebrations

10th Anniversary (1984)

On August 5, 1984, DAM held its 10th anniversary party in Davis's Central Park. Approximately 95 people, including some children, attended.

20th Anniversary (1994)

Another major milestone in DAM's history was the 20th anniversary celebration on September 11, 1994 at Davis's Community Park. Over 200 former and current DAM members and 30 children participated.

An oral history was augmented by over 40 scrap books that Dorothy Scott and Mary Horton maintained. Brief remarks were given by coaches Jerry Hinsdale, Dave Scott and Mike Collins.

Milt Blackman chaired the celebration, and Gary Miller, organized the event, and Mumulay Rajan catered the dinner.

40th Anniversary (2014)

DAM held its 40th anniversary celebration on the evening of August 9, 2014, at the home of longtime DAM members Jamie Anderson and Jan Ilkiw. President Ann Willis introduced the board and Stu and Mary. Attending that night was the first DAM coach, Dave Scott.  

Photos of event can be seen here and here. Read Stu's welcome message and the night's menu here.

50th Anniversary (2024)

DAM held its 50th anniversary celebration at the Natomas Aquatic Center following a monumental and massive VICTORY at the Pacific Masters Short Course Yards Championships. With a record number of DAM swimmers in attendance at the meet (168!!), DAM was unmatched. Additionally, with 88 relays concocted, we broke over 50 new records in relays, women's individual events, and men's individual events combined! The leadership and coaches on deck during the meet were interim coaches Stu and Mary Kahn, and Assistant Head Coach Vivian Crow.

Photos of the Champion Team at the meet can be seen here.

Head Coach Matt Zachan, as well as previous Head Coaches Don Veress, Mike Collins, and Stu Kahn were all in attendance at the celebration, and even shared some wonderful stories and memories of their time in leadership on DAM.

Photos from the 50th anniversary celebration can be viewed here

Acknowledgements: The original history was organized by Verne Scott and produced from early directories, notes, minutes, and recollections of many. Special help was provided by Barbara Paulson, Mary Horton, Curt Miller, and Don Veress. Mike Collins and Gayle BonDurant provided additional information, particularly on club activities from 1989 to the present [at the time the original article was written, around 1996]. The current version has been updated and edited.


DAM Newsletter Tidbit, April 1995:
DAM Tattoo Anyone?

As a fundraiser, DAM offered a way for members to have a tattoo of the team logo "permanently etched on your skin" for $79.95. The newsletter doesn’t say how many members took up DAM on the offer.

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