Back in 1996, I was competing in triathlons in the Mid-Atlantic region and was cross training in multiple sports. A former swimming rival from Ohio, Paul Frentsos, told me about an LGBT swim team in D.C. called the District of Columbia Aquatics Club (DCAC). I ended up competing with them at the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatic (IGLA) Championships that year and have been a member ever since.
The team began in 1987 when a few of the members of the Washington Wetskins water polo team decided to compete in swimming as well as water polo at the IGLA Championships that year. DCAC is a member of both United States Masters Swimming (USMS), which boasts more than 42,000 master swimmers and IGLA. Over the years, DCAC has grown to become one of the largest masters swim teams in the Potomac Valley region with around 150 members. It consists of athletes who have never competed in a swim meet to world record holders.
Competitive swimmers compete in three different types of pools, short course yards (25 yards), short course meters (25 meters) and long course meters (50 meters). DCAC offers practices during the winter at the Takoma Aquatic Center, Marie Reed Recreation Center and Montgomery College. In the summer, it offers the opportunity for long course training at Haines Point.
To become a member of DCAC, you must first join U.S. Masters Swimming which is $37 per year. With that fee, you will receive Swimmer Magazine, the Swimmer’s Ear (a Potomac Valley publication), some minor accident insurance and the opportunity to compete in swim meets. The DCAC fees are $35 per year along with pool dues which are contingent on how often you train.
The group offers 90-minute practices six times per week. The practices, which are run by paid coaches, emphasize stroke technique, building strength, endurance and aerobic conditioning. The team itself is run entirely by swimmers who volunteer their time.
On Saturday, DCAC will host the 20th annual Maryland Swim for Life in Chestertown, MD. The event is sanctioned by United States Masters Swimming and will begin and end at Rolph’s Wharf on the Chester River. Athletes have the choice of competing in 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- or 5-mile open water races and must raise $100 to participate. Proceeds from the event benefit various small organizations that assist individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS in the D.C. metropolitan area, along with the Chester River Association.
According to Wonkee Moon, co-race director, DCAC plans to welcome about 150 competitors from across the Mid-Atlantic region in hopes of raising $20,000 for local charities.
DCAC has hosted the Swim for Life event for 10 years and has helped raise over $200,000 during that time.
After they wrap up their open water event this weekend, the swimmers will be turning their efforts to the pool as they head to Honolulu where they will compete in the IGLA World Championships from July 6-10. DCAC is sending 42 swimmers who range in age from 23 to 68 and will be competing for the large team trophy.
DCAC won the large team trophy for the first time at the 1995 IGLA Championships in Montreal. Its swimmers continued to win the trophy awarded to the team amassing the most points in eight of the next 10 IGLA Championships where they were eligible for prize. Good luck to the globetrotting swimmers as they try to grab the IGLA Championships for the ninth time. More information on the team can be found at www.swimdcac.org.