A ‘Normal’ Thanksgiving Swimming Feast Before the Actual Thanksgiving Feast

by SwimSwam Contributors 1

November 26th, 2021 Lifestyle, Training

Every year, Dean Ottati has written the annual ‘Thanksgiving Feast’ set for his Walnut Creek Masters team (read about Dean here).

The practice was almost canceled in 2018 due to the California wildfires, and was scratched in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“It is the gathering of our swimming tribe before the gathering of family, where team members of all ages and abilities from five different daily practice times, come together to share a workout,” Dean wrote in his 2016 article documenting the set.

This year, Dean’s passed the torch onto teammate Jenn Hwang. Read about this year’s set below:

Normally my teammate, Dean Ottati would be writing about the Thanksgiving Feast set by Walnut Creek Masters, but he gave me the honors this year. I guess this truly reflects the: “normal, but not quite normal” theme.

Every year, Walnut Creek Masters has a Thanksgiving practice. It was nearly cancelled in 2018 because of the wildfires. The pandemic did cancel this practice in 2020. This year the tradition is back with a twist, Kerry O’Brien has retired and no longer runs the Thanksgiving practice.  While his presence was missed on deck, Debbie Santos and Steve Stahl stepped up this year, hosting a great feast, keeping true to the tradition.

Notable quotes on deck: 

  • Dean: (on the Turducken option) “That’s not natural!”
  • Steve: “I can assure you, the Turducken is organic.”

Our set has been about the same recipe that Kerry mastered through the years. Steve joked how the set was “so 80s and 90s.” I’m sure maybe we will have the Tofurkey option next year, which is hopefully an IM version.

I’m just glad to be able to hang out and see my teammates. I’m thankful to have some of the best coaches, ever. Having that small sense of normalcy means so much. It was fun to joke with Dean about Turducken, having to be corrected on the proper way of saying Turducken (which I pronounce as Turdurken) and the “whuppin cream”. But honestly, I’m just thankful to be able to swim this year and celebrate this Thanksgiving with a swim.

Kerry, we miss you and we are proud of what you’ve done for the team and congratulations again on being inducted into the International Masters Hall of Fame.

“Whether it be a Thanksgiving meal or a Thanksgiving practice, the concept is the same: Surround yourself with good people that matter to you, and live into your thankfulness.” – Kerry O’Brien

To the current coaches of Walnut Creek Masters: Mike Heaney, Steve Stahl, Lisa Ward, Lee Ward, Russell Mikuni and Debbie Santos – thank you so much for being the best coaches ever. I’m glad to swim under you guys and your support over the years. Also, y’all are now #swimswamfamous

THE SET

A Practice to Feast On: 

  • Warmup: 10 minutes 
  • Pick Your Veggies (600 yards)
    • SUCCOTASH: Swim 6 X (25-25-50) 25’s each different non free stroke -50 non free choice
    • OR YAMS: swim 4 X (75 + 3X25) All Free 75 @ +5 interval and 25’s @ descending intervals (Fast, mod, EZ)
  • Pick Your Meat (1500 yards)
    • WHITE: 10 X (25-50-75)
      • Odd rounds descending intervals EZ-MOD-FAST
      • Even rounds ascending intervals FAST-MOD- EZ
    • DARK: 6 X (100-100-50)
      • First 100 @ FPSO
      • Second 100 @ +10 descend 1-3, 4-6
    • 50 EZ
    • TURDUCKEN: (part turkey, duck and chicken!)
      • 10 X (25-50-75) within each round each distance is a different stroke. All moderate intervals and 25’s are always sprint
  • The Stuffing (600 yards)
    • 8 rounds of 25 underwater dolphin kick
    • 50 drill/swim by 25 your choice
  • Dessert – Pumpkin Pie  (500 yards)
    • 24 X 25 – 1 @ EZ int, 2 @ MOD int, 3 @ FAST int
      • Whuppin cream version – do any 8 fly

About Jenn Hwang

Jenn Hwang currently swims on Walnut Creek Masters and part-time on Walnut Creek Aquabears. On the rare occasions when she’s not swimming or working as a web analyst, she’s playing Pokémon Go or trying to cop the latest pair of sneakers from Nike.

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BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

That pic brings back a lot of good memories even though I last swam for them 15 years ago. I am glad to see that things are back to normal (kinda). Some of my best swimming experiences and efforts came in that pool under Kerry, Mike and Debbie. I remember a real sense of team, not just a bunch of old people doing laps in a pool. I hope Kerry is enjoying his retirement. I really appreciated this update on the team.