Walnut Creek Masters Thanksgiving Tradition Continues Amid Fires

In a follow-up to last year’s Thanksgiving practice article by SwimSwam contributor Dean Ottati (read here), this year, his teammate Jenn Hwang has picked up the role of storyteller. Amidst the wildfires that are ravaging the state of California, Jenn has found new things to be thankful for this year.

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Thanksgiving practices are a tradition at Walnut Creek Masters. This year was no exception, except our set was modified since we had to take time off from the air quality in Northern California from the Camp Fire. Never have we been thankful for then clean air and realized how important it was. I think we’re all thankful we can go to swim practice this year. This is the time of year where college kids come home to visit mom and dad, a time where family can spend a day of being at the pool before attempting to eat the entire turkey (and table).

As I wake up and prep for practice, I think about the families affected from the Camp Fires, how homes are destroyed, and families broken up. There are hundreds still missing and multiple causalities. Students up in Butte County have lost hours of instruction and teams there are definitely forced to cancel practice. In light of Thanksgiving, I mourn for these people while I have a home, I got a feast with my family after and I got my swim team together.

We can whine and be mad about missing practice (I’ll admit that happened), we have to be thankful on what we have. Sometimes we get frustrated or go: “Coach, this practice sucks, why are we doing this?” But there are worse things: Think about what happens when you can’t swim for 2 weeks because of bad air quality. Think about how your pool has been affected from a natural disaster, or wondering if your coaches and teammates missing or even dead.

So for this Thanksgiving, it’s not about the set, it’s about being thankful we have each other. Although we still pick what we want: “peas or yams?”, “Dark meat, white meat or turduken?”, Pumpkin Pie with or without “whuppin’ cream?” the buffet choices are endless. It’s the great coaches that came out and support us. Thanks Coach Kerry O’Brien and Coach Steve Stahl for feeding us this year.

About Jenn Hwang: Jenn Hwang is a Walnut Creek Masters athlete and part-time Walnut Creek Aquabears competitor. If she’s not swimming, she’s playing Pokemon Go: running the Bay Area Pokemon Go community and trying to play the game while swimming or working 9-5 as a product manager.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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