Penguin Swim Club: A Look Back

By Chuck Scimeca

This is a little history of the Penguin swim program from when my wife Pam and my family first moved to Nevada County in March 1994. The USA Swimming age group program, Penguin Swim Team (PST), had already been established (late 1980s) Coincidentally, the year we arrived was the first time PST Coach Larry Gruver welcomed a small group of Masters swimmers to practice during the early morning high school time at Memorial Park Pool.

In the fall, we ran into Sandra Brown: an old friend from Año Nuevo State Reserve. She told us about Masters swimming with PST. We began swimming with PST and the Masters at Memorial Park Pool and enjoyed it very much. Sandra and Pam took on the task of cleaning restrooms and showers and Sandra maintained the pool chemicals. In 1996, the Masters program was officially organized under PST due to the efforts of Sandra and Steve Baker. Sandra became the first representative for Masters on the PST board. Karen Walden was the second beginning in 1999 (we all still swim with the club).

For the next several years, PST Masters swam both Memorial Park pool and Nevada Union High School (NUHS) pool. By 2013, both pools required lifeguards for practices. Lifeguards were expensive, complicating the management of the swim club. However, we persevered. Around the same time, Coach Gruver retired. PST merged with Northern Sierra Aquatics (NSA), an age group club from Bear River High School to the south, to form a more sustainable USA Swimming team.

For the next several years  Northern Sierra Aquatics (NSA) ran the age group and Master programs at both Memorial and Bear River pools. By the winter of 2020, during covid, NSA, renamed as Northern Sierra Swimming (NSS), made the decision to discontinue overseeing the Masters program and ended their contract for the use of Memorial Park pool. In April of 2021, our Masters swimmers organized a committee to help with the transition. The goal was to establish an independent swim club and to stay swimming. This made it possible to swim at Memorial Park pool from September 2020 through June 15, 2021 at which time the Memorial pool closed for reconstruction. 

In July of 2021 we formed our new club, the Penguin Swim Club, so we could manage our own program and negotiate with the different agencies for pool time. The Club negotiated with the City of Nevada City and NUHS (summer 2022) for swim times.  The Club was successful thanks to Nevada City, NUHS, and the hard work of our new Board of Directors. We were able to swim Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with plenty of swim times at the Pioneer pool through the fall/winter/spring months. The Penguin Swim Club became the first group of swimmers to ever swim at Pioneer Pool in the winter.

Now starting on September 5th, 2022, after an enjoyable summer at NUHS we returned to the Pioneer Pool once again. But this time with warm showers and a bright future ahead.