Dad's Club Swim Team - 50 + years of achievements and programs
The Spring Branch Memorial Drive Dad's Club was formed in the spring of 1946. Mr. C. H. Kiefner was the first president. Teenage activities were started in the school gymnasium every other Saturday night, and planning commenced for a Boy Scout House on the school grounds. Early activities were primarily devoted to entertainment and recreation, with almost no emphasis on competition. By September of 1949, the Recreation building was partly complete and work on the grounds, tennis courts and ball diamond were in progress.
Early in 1952, following the recommendations of Mr. Louis Cutrer, plans were started for a swimming pool and a kitchen for the Youth Center. The Lions Club supplied the funds for the kitchen project. The new pool was officially opened June 12, 1953. The first record of Dad's Club hosting a swim meet was February 1, 1955. The meet was a Junior - Midget Swim Meet with seventeen organizations present, 200 contestants and 50 AAU officials. The Dad's Club Head Coach at that time was Mr. E. A. Snapp.
Mr. and Mrs. Pat Patterson were hired as swim coaches in 1957, and the next four years proved to be outstanding in the growth of the team. Joan Spillane, a Dad's Club Swimmer, earned a Gold Medal as a member of the United States 400 Free Relay team at the Rome Olympic Games.
In the summer of 1965, Richard Quick, an outstanding swimmer from Southern Methodist University came to coach the team. By 1967, The Dad's Club was ranked sixth in the Nation and the following year seven swimmers qualified for the Olympic Trials, including Keena Rothammer who later won a Gold Medal in1972. In 1970, construction began on the present 50 meter outdoor facilities.
In 1972, Richard Quick moved on to start his collegiate career with SMU and to eventually become a 6-time Olympic coach (1984-2004). Skip Kenney, assistant to Don Gambrill at Harvard University, was appointed to the position of Head Coach. The 1974-75 season saw twenty-three swimmers attend Junior Nationals in Ithaca, New York, with five of those reaching finals. The year culminated with the selection of Buzz Stagg and Ralph Watson to the United States National Team which traveled to the Soviet Union in the fall.
By 1976, The Dad's Club had won ten consecutive Texas Age Group Championships (TAGS), and set seven National Age Group Records. Laura Raymond, Erica Meyer and Renee Magee qualified for the Olympic Trials Selection Meet, with Renee becoming the first woman from the State of Texas to represent the United States in Olympic Competition.
The excellence continued as the team broke two Junior National Records and Erica Meyer and Sara Irwin won places on the United States Team to the Soviet Union. Two Dad's Club men, Bill O'Brien and Kyle Ditzler, won trips to France and Bulgaria, respectively. Pat Nitsch became the first Dad's Club athlete to be placed on the cover of Swimming World Magazine.
The team placed eighteenth overall at the Indoor Senior Nationals in Austin, and thirteenth overall at the Olympic Trials in Irvine, California. Unfortunately, 1980 was the year of the Olympic boycott. However, Ricky Bodor, Larry Craft, Rick May, Michelle Merchant, Bill O'Brien, Dean Putterman, Chris Rives, Kelly Rives, Andy Schmidt, and Pat Nitsch represented the Dad's Club well at the Trials.
Ricky Bodor also represented the USA on the 800 free relay receiving a silver medal at the World University Games in Edmonton Canada in 1983.
The season of 1982-83 was one of transition and rebuilding.Scott Hemingway was the only swimmer to win three Gold Medals at the Junior Meet and Heather Hardy took the Gold in the 100 Meter backstroke. Two Dad's Club swimmers qualified for Senior Nationals, with Asa Lawrence earning sixth in the 50 free and twelfth in the 100 free. Both times placed him in the World Rankings of that year.
Continued Dad's Club successs continued in 1985, with the club finishing tenth in the Men's Division at the Los Angeles Indoor Senior Nationals. Chris Rives qualified for the Pan Pacific Games and the World Student Championships in Japan that year. He was a Gold Medalist in the 200 IM at Pan Pacific's, finishing with the fourth fastest time in the world that year.
For both the Dad's Club and the Houston area in general, 1986 proved to be a difficult period. Hit by the hard economic times within the oil industry, many families left the Houston metropolitan area. The spring of 1986 brought tragedy to the club with the traffic death of Kirsten Torgerson, one of the club's strongest swimmers. The Dad's Club team, determined to overcome this adversity, sent a strong fourteen member team to the Austin Junior Nationals.
The Olympic year - 1988 -, had great impact on the Dad's Club yet again! The team had two United States Olympic Trials qualifiers in Eric Ruby and Dave Hansen. Russ White, a Dad's Club parent and a USA official, was the Men's official starter at the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul. Doug Gjertsen, no longer in Houston, won an Olympic Gold medal as a member of a USA relay.
The 1989-90 season saw the Dad's Club Swim Team improve at every level of competition. Dads Club swimmers placed 8th overall at the 1991 YMCA Nationals in Orlando, with the Women's Team finishing 3rd. US Swimming thought we were doing a great job as well. They awarded the Dad's Club Swim team a $500 check as the winner in the 91' competition.
The Dad's Club was one of three teams in the United States that provided the most services for its swimmers and parents, as well as being run efficiently. The Dad's Club 1991-92 season was exemplary in true Dad's Club tradition. US Swimming, again, honored the Dad's Club by awarding them $500 for the "Again in 92" competition. These were the only 2 years this competition was held and the Dad's Club was chosen as the outstanding team in the US both times.
The 1993 YMCA Nationals was another bright spot for Dads Club Swimmers as the Women's Team placed 1st, the Men 2nd and the Team 2nd overall. Coach Boerner was voted the YMCA Coach of the Year.
1995-96 was highlighted by a very successful Junior National meet in Santa Clara. Shannon OíNeal, Ashley Messersmith, Kylie Williams and Allison Mahlstedt, scored in all relays. Allison became the fastest freestyler in Dad's Club History. Francisco Padua improved his 400 IM and 200 backstroke. Mark VanAkkeren qualified for Senior Nationals in the 400IM and 200 Fly, an event he won.
1996-97 At the spring Senior National meet, Mark Van Akkeren placed 8th in 200 fly. Kylie Williams placed second at the UIL high school swim meet with a Senior National time.