The City Council will continue its discussion about which programs to keep—and which to ax—as it tries to balance the budget. Members of the city’s nationally recognized Masters Swim Team continue to voice their hope that their beloved coach, Kerry O’Brien, keeps his job.
Masters Team swim members pleaded their cause at the City Council meeting two weeks ago. Now they have flooded the council—sorry, couldn’t avoid this verb—with letters, presenting their reasons for why the team isn’t just good for the team’s some 500 swimmers, but for the city, too.
The city proposes to discontinue funding for O’Brien and the assistant coaches. The team has more than 300 members, adults of all abilities from their 20s to seniors. They joined the team to swim for fitness and for competition. Many rise early to make their daily practices at Clarke Memorial Swim Center at Heather Farm. O’Brien has been coaching the team since 1980 and is himself an accomplished butterflier who competes in the 45-49 age group.
“The Walnut Creek Masters Team plays a vital role in making Walnut Creek the top desired location in the Bay Area for new residents and visotrs. The number one reason why people love Walnut Creek is because of its healthy, competitive sports and outdoor recreation lifestyle.
If the city does not fund the coaches, WCM may need to let them go because our dues cannot cover the cost of their employment,” write brothers Jon and Ben Luchesse
Many on the team reside right here in the city, there are some who travel great distances.
Walnut Creek business also directly benefit from a strong, robust [masters swim team]. We patronize the city’s swim and sporting goods stores. We regularly gather after practice. …
It is well known that most residents and visitors to our city are drawn here for our unmatched outdoor, recreational and sporting activities. Some may think it’s the shopping, but really many of the stores in Broadway Plaza are the same ones you can find at nearby malls. What really makes Walnut Creek unique is that it is the perfect place for competitive and recreational athletes. Where else can one get top-notch swim instruction, in a beautiful swim facility, under the sentinel of Mt. Diablo?”
Rob Butcher, executive director of U.S. Masters Swimming writes: “More than 30 years ago, the city pioneered a partnership with Walnut Creek Masters that today is being modeled across the country. Your partnership included empoying Kerry O’Brien as a masters swimming coach. You partnership signaled a commitment tot he citizens of WC to offer and adult swimming lifestyle program that would be accessible and make a difference in the quality of their lives.”
One team member said she moved to Walnut Creek for the sole purpose of swimming on the masters team. She also made important friends on the team. “Best of all, I found a partner and we have been married for 15 years. My husband and I have two children who are swimmers as well—this has all been a direct result of the masters!”
The council is set to finalize its budget by June 15.