Columbia Gorge Masters host Zone meet in Hood River

Four newcomers joined two elder statesmen April 26-27, when the Columbia Gorge Masters Swim Team hosted the Northwest Zone Short Course Swimming Championships at the Hood River Aquatic Center.

Chuck Johnisee, Sandra Haynie, Tim Rayle and Ken Pawchuk joined long-time Masters swimmers Sandi Rousseau and Bill Mellow at the meet, which was the first adult meet ever to be held here in town.

“The meet was a huge success for everyone involved,” said Rousseau, who helped coordinate the event along with meet director Shelly Rawding. “Columbia Gorge Masters received many compliments on the meet, the facility, hospitality and the area.”

Approximately 150 swimmers from five Northwest states attended the meet, which was held for two days and was capped off by a silent auction and social at Full Sail Brewing.

But while some of the Northwest’s best swimmers were in attendance, all local eyes were focused on the four newcomers.

“I wasn’t really sure if I was ready to compete again,” said Pawchuk, an engineering tech who works in the aerospace industry.

“But these guys pushed me and showed me how fun it can be. There is a tremendous amount of support on this team and it’s just a great group of people,” he said.

Pawchuk and the Columbia Gorge Masters train twice a week in Hood River and are always looking for more people to join the fun.

“Sandi and Bill have provided an inspiration to me and the team’s other new members,” Pawchuk said. “And now that I’ve got one race behind me, I think it will only get better.”

Pawchuk had a strong showing at the April 26-27 meet, finishing third in the 100 back among 35-39 year-olds, and fourth in the 50 back. He also placed fifth in the 50 free and sixth in the 100 free.

Johnisee placed fifth in the 50 breast and ninth in the 50 free among 40-44 year-olds; Haynie placed sixth in the 50 free among 55-59 year-olds; and Rayle placed sixth in the 50 breast and 10th in the 50 free among 40-44 year-olds.

The team’s two most experienced swimmers, Mellow and Rousseau, were the big stars of the meet, with Mellow placing first in all eight events he entered in the 60-64 year-old division, and Rousseau taking three firsts, a second and a third in the 55-59 year-old age group.

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