“For someone whose roots in America were strong but only inches deep, and who had no experience, such as a Catholic child might, of an awesome hierarchy that was real and felt, baseball was a kind of secular church that reached into every class and region of the nation and bound millions upon millions of us together in common concerns, loyalties, rituals, enthusiasms, and antagonisms. Baseball made me understand what patriotism was about, at its best.”

Philip Roth (1933) - American novelist and short story writer
Vol. 18, No. 11 • Mailed monthly to over 12, 400 homes in the Gateway & Parkrose Communities Free • APRIL 2003
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Opportunities abound for Mid-County swimmers

Local swim clubs seek members


Mid-County families have two competitive swim clubs and two swim pools at their disposal, yet many may not be aware of them. Both Parkrose High School and David Douglas High School boast Olympic caliber facilities. The swim clubs are not affiliated with the schools and receive no funding from the districts, but pool time is made available for practices and meets.

Coaches John Billings (left) and Sandi Healey, in white shirts, surrounded by members of the Parkrose Swim Club.
Courtesy of Northwest School and Sports Photography
Parkrose Swim Club (PRSC) and David Douglas Swim Club (DDSC) operate under the auspices of Oregon Swimming, Inc., a local swimming committee of United States Swimming, (USA Swimming), the national governing body for competitive swimming. Even though all coaches and officials are volunteer, they must be trained and certified, according to Coach John Billings, Head Coach of PRSC. This can mean staying up to date with CPR and First Aid certifications, taking periodic safety classes, or learning to use the Hy-Tek sports software used to document meet results and records.

Both swim clubs are open to swimmers 18 and under and operate year round. The swimming year is generally divided into two seasons. The short-course (winter) season, traditionally October through March, normally consists of competition in 25 yard or 25 meter courses. The long-course (summer) season, mid-April through August, emphasizes competition in 50-meter courses. Swimmers compete in breaststroke, butterfly, backstroke, freestyle, and Individual Medley (all four strokes in one race). Swimmers are classified by sex, age, stroke, and ability. This enables swimmers to compete against others with similar abilities, allows for a progression by the athlete and provides incentives to improve.

PRSC was established in 1956 and has a current membership of 55 athletes. Coach Billings encourages families to drop by a practice to check out the facility, coaches and team members. A try-out can be arranged at the same time. He has had swimmers as young as four years of age and currently coaches some standout swimmers at the high school level. Practices are held 5 days a week from 5-7 p.m. at the Parkrose High School swimming pool at 11717 N.E. Shaver Street 503-257-5219. Team members can expect to compete in at least one meet a month. Says Coach Billings; “We look to provide a good wholesome atmosphere and an affordable option for families.” He adds that the swim club neatly compliments other extracurricular activities and sports. Some of his swimmers compete during only one of the swim seasons and participate in another sport or activity during the remainder of the year.

Coach Billings was a PRSC team member as a youth and still holds the Parkrose High School record of 4:43.30 he set in the 500 meter Freestyle event in 1978. He says there are a couple of records older than his that still stand as well. Retired from the Marine Corps after 22 years of service, Billings has three former charges currently in the Marines and on active duty in the Persian Gulf, as well as one enrolled at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

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