PENDLETON - The Pendleton Masters Swim Club won first place for small teams at the Oregon Master Swim Association Championships in Canby last weekend.

The Pendleton team competed against 10 other small teams (seven swimmers or less).

The team, coached by Donna Collins, included Corrin Graybeal, Jason Graybeal, Jeff VanNatta, Darcey Ridgway, Tania Wildbill and Carolyn Thompson. All swimmers placed first, second and third in all their events.

"The best part of the weekend was swimming the 500 freestyle against a 70-year-old man who left me in his wake," said Ridgway, who learned later that the man, Dave Radcliff from Tualatin Hills, represented the United States at the 1956 Olympics.

"That still didn't make me fell any better," Ridgway said with a laugh, "but that's what masters swimming is all about."

Masters swimming is inspired by swimmers of all ages. The Tualatin Barracudas included an 83-year-old woman, Elfie Stevenin, who swam a 200 yard butterfuly (8 laps).

The Pendleton team is made up of collegiate swimmers, former age group swimmers and novice swimmers, said coach Donna Collins. Some of the swimmers had not competed in a meet in more than 30 years.

"I am really proud of their efforts," she said. "Placing first in the Masters Swim Association is a huge accomplishment, and I couldn't be happier. We had great swims, a fun time and look forward to the next competition. Swimming truly is a lifetime sport."

"It's thanks to our incredible coach, Donna Collins and all her creative workouts and attention to stroke improvement that made this possible," said Wildbill. "In addition, Neil Simpson at the RAC has given us the pool time needed to build a team."

The Pendleton Master Swim Club holds practices at the Round-Up Athletic Club (RAC) Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30-7:45 p.m. Swimmers of all ages and levels are welcome. For more information on the club, call team representative Darcey Ridgway at 310-0951.

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