SPMA COACHES OF THE YEAR 1997
Rick Goeden and Gerry Rodrigues


THE TRUE STORY OF TWO SPMA COACHES OF THE YEAR.
Once upon a time there was a young boy who lived in Trinidad and swam faster than all the other children (and most of the fish) who inhabited the small Caribbean Island. To challenge himself, the boy traveled to a place far from his homeland and trained with the Mission Viejo Nadadores and then at a small private college in Malibu. When his college swimming days were over, the barefoot boy from Trinidad had, on the surface, been transformed into a young man from Malibu, but alas, deep inside, felt lost and displaced.

Fortunately for the young man, he found his way down the coast to the Palisades Y where he was immediately taken in by the Head Masters Coach. The young boy thrived in the warm and friendly atmosphere created by this special coach and vowed to one day follow in his footsteps. As time passed, a special bond was created between coach and swimmer and they bestowed upon each othe the nicknames."Coachie" and "Mambo".

From 19761986, "Coachie" Rick Goeden, built the Palisades Masters program from scratch to a successful 100+ member club. He was famous for his enthusiastic workouts and positive atmosphere. "Burned-out" college swimmers with achy shoulders found their way to him, as did senior citizens with no prior swimming experience. All were treated with equal respect and all became better swim mers and better persons for having known him. He had come to Southern California by way of Wisconsin, where he was a standout high school butterflyer. He passed through the Olympic Training Camp in Colorado Springs and did a 2-year coaching stint in Woodlands, Texas on his way out West.After ten years at the Pali Y, his work in West L.A. was finished. It was time for a new challenge and a chance to benefit another community with his coaching ethic and skills. He chose the rustic town Ojai as his next challenge. Lucky Ojai.

He again started from scratch, this time as the Program Director for the Ojai Racquet Club. He start ed out with no Masters swimmers in 1987 and now has over 120 swimmers.Rick's Ojai teams have won 4 consecutive SPMA Short Course Yards Championships and have won back-to-back National Men's SCY team titles (small team) at De Anza and Federal Way. Ojai relay teams dominate the record book in the 65+ age groups. And he continues to coach with the same zealousness as his first day on the pool deck. Impassioned by his love of the sport and undaunted by his success. His favorite aspect of coaching is still teaching the "Technique class" to the newer swimmers who have not yet developed swimming skills. He thrives on the challenge of not only teaching the benefits of swimming but also providing new swimmers with the skills that allow them to enjoy their time in the water. He has earned the respect and friendship of many and without question has earned the honor of being SPMA's Coach of the Year

And what of "Mambo" (a.k.a. Gerry Rodrigues)? Well, true to his word, he set out to make his mentor proud. He started his coaching career with a small team of Malibu residents who were continual frustrated by being shut out of their pool for 4 months each year This spirited, yet often waterless group, hung together for two years before "Mambo Gerry" took on a bigger challenge as co-director of the 500+ member Southern California Aquatic Masters which he coached for three years before moving onto the UCLA campus to start the Bruin Masters in 1995. In just over two years, Gerry has developed the Bruin Masters from ground zero to over 200 active members and has led his team to two straight SCM Championship team titles by using the creative coaching strategy of convincing (some might say "brainwashing") his entire team to enter, and complete without disqualification, the unpopular 200meter butterfly. To quote one of Gerry's swimmers about this experience:

"I entered the program a senior citizen who could barely swim. Gerry made me feel a part of the team made me a swimmer; and made me set goals. With encouragement, I made the commitment to swim the 200-meter butterfly in the regional championship at Cerritos. And yes, this 67-year-old rookie swimmer did it! It gave me great satisfaction and new self esteem. I could have only done it with Gerry's coaching, encouragement and guidance." (Lowell Offer)

In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Gerry is also the co-publisher of three swimming publications, "SWIM Magazine", "Swimming World Magazine", and "Swimming Technique" and through his efforts, Masters swimming has received extensive media coverage in local and national publications such as the Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Daily News, ALLURE Magazine, and American Health Magazine. Congratulations Gerry on a job well done!