Masters swimming catching on in Hood River

It’s never too late to begin a new sport, and it’s never too early in the morning to get started — at least for some people.

Stop by the Hood River Aquatic Center any Tuesday or Thursday morning at 6 a.m. and you’ll find one of the most dedicated groups of athletes in the valley.

The Columbia Gorge Masters swim team is steadily growing in size, and with 15 diehard members on the current roster, the team is beginning to reach all-new heights.

“What’s special about a team like this is that swimming becomes more of a social sport,” said Dr. Mike Pendleton, who has been involved in Masters competition for more than 10 years.

“Swimming is a sport in which you’re always under water, so it’s hard to be social. Masters gives adult swimmers a chance to have fun with one another and get in shape at the same time,” he said.

Pendleton is one of the original Hood River Masters, having swum in competitions during the mid-‘90s, when his four children were involved in competitive swimming.

“Back then, there were maybe three people, but it was mostly me,” said Pendleton, who competed at two national-level Masters meets and called the unofficial team the “Hood River Bald Eagles.”

“I haven’t sold the others on that name yet,” he joked, “but no matter what it’s called, Masters swimming is a great organization to be involved with.”

Nowadays, the person who is taking the lead for the Columbia Gorge Masters is Sandi Rousseau of Odell.

Rousseau, who has competed in Masters meets for years, has been instrumental in helping the team prepare for meets such as the Northwest Masters Zone meet, which will be held at the Hood River Aquatic Center on April 26-27, 2003.

“Sandy has really spearheaded the effort to make this a team that goes to meets,” said coach Shelly Rawding, who spends two days a week with the Masters team and also directs the local youth club team.

“But the best thing about Masters is that it brings people together. People want to swim every day, and when there’s a group, it makes it a lot more fun to come out,” she said.

The current roster includes Rousseau, Pendleton and his wife Lynne, Caitlin Cray, Sandra Haynie, Carolou Hurlbert, Cheryl Keller, Scott McAllister (the original member), Tim Rayle, Bill and Kathy Mellow, Maggie and Roger Roediger and Chuck Johnisee.

The team is beginning its third season and is always looking for new members.

“A team like this shows you that you’re never too old to learn something new,” Rawding said. “And once people get involved, they can’t help but get excited.”

If you would like more information on the Columbia Gorge Masters or Oregon Masters, call Rousseau at 354-2580 or Rawding at 509-494-4679.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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