WATCH: Taylor Ruck, Dylan Melin, Connor Stirling Race Backyard 40-Yard Free

With the worldwide coronavirus quarantine forcing top-level swimmers to find alternate ways to train and race, a few top-level talents are making do with an Arizona backyard.

Canada’s Olympic bronze medalist Taylor Ruck is the headliner. The 19-year-old rising star was set to be one of the most exciting young swimmers in contention for this summer’s Olympic medals after winning 8 Commonwealth Games medals and 5 Pan Pacs medals in 2018, followed by three 2019 Worlds bronzes on relays.

Ruck was previously training at Canada’s Ontario High Performance Center, but that group was sent home last week after Canada canceled its Olympic Trials and later announced that the nation would not participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics as they are currently scheduled.

Ruck returned to Arizona, where she swam as an age grouper and high schooler. She’s now connected with Nate Moore, a longtime club coach in Arizona.

Moore is coaching a small group of swimmers out of a backyard pool – the pool itself is owned by the Kim Courtney Swim School, an early swimming spot for a young Ruck. The group also includes Arizona state champ, high school senior and West Virginia signee Dylan Melin and BYU junior Connor Stirlingwho trained with Moore in high school.

While making sure to not exceed group size limits recommended by the CDC, Moore says his group is finding a way to train – and also a way to stay connected in the midst of the pandemic.

“We all work together through adversity,” Moore said. “We support each other, and we want to stick together to work through any difficulties.

I guess what this is really all about is all of us coming together from all different directions because we all share goals of working hard, doing everything we can to train in a safe environment, and being there for each other so we all know we are never alone.”

Check out this race video of the three, competing in a 40-yard race – two laps in the 20-yard backyard pool. Stirling is in the middle lane, Melin in the closest lane to the camera and Ruck in the far outside lane at the top:

Below is a photo of the group, plus Moore’s garage, which is the team’s makeshift weight room.

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Great to see people still swimming, and 6 feet apart


I’ll take whatever sports I can get. Have them tell the bookies next time.


Has anyone else swam in or even for a summer rec team that uses a 20 yard pool? The record board is quite a sight.

I did when I was little. I believe the team that hosted it was called Maplebrook I? I’m not sure if they still have a team, though I think there’s still another team with a 20 yard pool (Huntington) that does. In the 6 or so years that I swam in that league, I think maybe we had 2 meets at that pool.

The league had different qualifying standards and everything. I want to say that they did 5 lengths for 100 yard races.

This is the Naperville Swim Conference in suburban Chicago.


Very cool. Our pool was in Wilmington, Delaware where summer teams swim in the North Brandywine Swim League. All events were completed using traditional lengths instead of distances. For example, a traditional 100 free remained a four length event, resulting in a distance of 80 yards.

Swimming World Magazine reported on a story in 2013 when the University of Michigan held a dual meet in a 20 yard pool. An interesting read.

Mediocre Swammer

Didn’t Jenny Thompson also train mostly in a 20-yard pool in Delaware? Or was that only when she was really young? (Or am I mis-remembering entirely?)

Mediocre Swammer

When I coached Y swimming, our closest rivals had a 4-lane, 20-yard pool. (They have since built a new one.) They also did 5 lengths for the 100 (and 10 for the 200), which really confused the 8 and unders.


Ah, the Naperville Olympics!! I had a swimmer prepared to skip Juniors since it was such an important meet. I was able to convince her otherwise – barely!


Swam in college in a 5 lane 20 yard pool. Now, several decades later, there is a beautiful indoor 50m pool. Too many turns after a night of having too much to drink.

DIIIer (Polar Bear elsewhere)

My high school pool (New England boarding school) was 20 yards (and turned my hair green every year). Was built in 1922, replaced in 2006 or so.


Here’s a cool article about the 20 yard pool at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, called the Plunge. It used to host competitions and performances from world class swimmers, such as Duke Kahanamoku. The 20 yard pool was contained within a larger, deeper pool for high diving.

Brian M

Fun fact, Dave Salo’s first national qualifier was trained in a 20 yd 4 ft deep pool. You may be surprised to know the swimmer qualified in the 1000 and 1650.


Moraga Ranch Swim Club (in Moraga, CA) used to be a five lane x 17 yard pool. I believe it was expanded to 25 yards in the 1990’s. While he didn’t represent Moraga Ranch (he swam for Moraga Valley), future Olympian Matt Biondi spent a few summer Saturdays racing there. Both clubs were part of the Orinda-Moraga Pool Association including Sleepy Hollow, Meadow, Orinda Country Club, Orinda Park Pool, Campolindo Cabana Club, Moraga Tennis and Racquet Club and Moraga Country Club.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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