Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

The directions were written on a portable dry-erase board: 500-yard warmup, six repetitions of 100 yards, six repetitions of 50 yards (slow, medium and fast) and six repetitions of 25 yards (slow and fast).

All to be completed in 55 minutes, at the swimmer's own level of comfort.

The inaugural Crescent City Masters Swim Club practice kicked off without fanfare at noon on a January Saturday. Eight swimmers took to the middle three lanes - slow, medium and fast - at Fred Endert Municipal Pool in the hopes of getting a little better.

"You don't want to be the slow person in the fast lane," club organizer Dan Gray said. "When that happens in lap swim, you can't get a workout in."

Gray, a Crescent City resident and a Masters swimmer for 27 years, generated the interest in forming a club during the fall and, in cooperation with pool manager Matt Hildebrandt, reserved a set time - noon to 12:55 p.m., every Saturday - for the club's use.

"When developing a program from scratch, it's difficult," Gray said. "The biggest thing we're trying to do is measure the interest in the community."

Within half an hour, the group's numbers swelled to 11 and Gray co-opted part of a fourth lane for the club's use. Most of the swimmers had developed strokes; all had developed enthusiasm.

"I'm excited that there's going to be a Masters Swim club in Crescent City," swimmer Michael Saberr said. "To me, the pool is one of the best things about Crescent City."

Saberr, 50, has participated in, by his count, 60 triathlons, including three Ironman triathlons. He came to Endert Pool on Jan. 5 to rediscover his stroke.

"It's good not to develop bad habits," Saberr said. "I can already feel my style of swimming (return)."

In between exercises, Gray offered words of encouragement as well as observations on people's stroke technique.

"He's a very good instructor," Saberr said. "It seems like he knows what he's doing."

Forty-five minutes into the session, a swimmer exited the pool and accosted Gray, expressing her disapproval over the Masters Swim club "taking over the pool." She worked during the week, she said, and could only carve out time to swim on the weekends. Ten minutes later, a pair of gentleman approached Gray to learn more about the fledgling club.

There is, in Gray's eyes, much work to be done. The current 55-minute time slot is set for the near future but subject to change if the pool needs it. Gray would also like to affiliate the club with U.S. Masters Swimming; that would require a yearly payment in the future (up to $68) but would help to defray the insurance cost for Endert Pool.

For now, the beginning effort was deemed successful by all participants.

"I really didn't think there would be this many people," Gray said, "but I know there are others (that are) interested out there that couldn't make it today. We'll see."

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