For the past forty-four years, there have been many milestones in the history of the Davis Aquatic Masters, and many different people working to make these milestones a success. One of the important events for our club was the very first Lake Berryessa Open Water Swim in 1982. Then, as is still the case now, scores of volunteers were needed. In this installment of Swimmer Spotlight, we describe the contributions of Kathy Gill and Greg Stoner, not only to the success of the first Berryessa event, but to DAM throughout the years.
One of the crucial components of any open water swim are the buoys, which chart the course and are used by swimmers to make sure they don’t stray. But in that very first Berryessa Swim, there were no big orange buoys supplied by Pacific Masters. So the task of making the buoys went to Kathy and Greg. They had no previous experience of building them and hadn't even swum an open water event to see them in use. Undaunted, they volunteered to do this anyway because it needed to be done.
To make the buoys, they went to the hardware store and got all the needed supplies (PVC, outdoor cloth, nylon rope, cinder blocks) and then spent several days figuring out how to put them together. In the end, the first Berryessa Swim was a "TREMENDOUS success" (page 4 of June 1982 DAM newsletter) and went on to become one of the important events in the open water season. (page three of the May 1982 newsletter) largely due to the hard work and resourcefulness of DAM volunteers like Greg and Kathy.
Since they joined DAM in the late '70s, Greg and Kathy have been a part of events both major and minor. Each has served on the Board of Directors (Kathy served in the early '80s, Greg is currently board president). They regularly participate in DAM events and activities, such as the One Hour Swim and the Brute Squad. They have each done the Trans-Tahoe Swim several times. Most recently, Kathy competed in the Santa Rosa Resolution Meet and the Splash & Dash Pentathlon just last month. And of course, both work at Berryessa every year.
They met at one of the DAM workouts that Kathy was coaching and got married soon after (no, the wedding wasn’t actually in the pool...that precedent wasn’t set for another forty years). Kathy pursued a career in elementary science education and worked in the DJUSD for 19 years. Greg works as a veterinarian. Both are now retired, but stay active in their respective fields. They have two sons: Chris, a former Aquadart and DAM coach, now working as a swim coach in Seattle, and Michael, also a former Aquadart coach, now working as a contract lawyer for Lockheed Martin. Both went to UC Davis.
When looking through the various documents and photos from the DAM archives, you run across Kathy and Greg frequently. For example, can you spot them in this photo taken of the DAM team that went to the USMS National Championship meet in 1979 at Mission Viejo? Hint: Kathy is wearing a visor and Greg is sporting sunglasses.
When asked what they get out of their participation in DAM, both cite the health benefits and stress relief that they get from swimming. Furthermore, Kathy stresses that the social aspect is very important for her. “When you regularly work hard this closely with others, you create a stong bond.” Greg adds that, for him, swimming is a meditative practice, making him feel more calm and focused. Finally, both agree that the Grand Prix program that Stu started a few years ago is a great motivator...and fun too!
Oh, and two more interesting facts: Greg is a guitar player and knows some Russian!
Precient remark from the May 1982 DAM Newsletter, about the upcoming Berryessa "rough water" swim...