The Dana Hills Swim Team is a recreational and competitive swim program designed to provide swimmers of all levels with the opportunity to learn stroke technique under the age group format and to apply what they have learned in competitive situations.
The team’s goal is to develop and maintain a high quality swim program with an emphasis on building self esteem, camaraderie, good sportsmanship, and team spirit. The team includes swimmers from ages four to 18 years, teaching the physical and mental skills necessary to participate and compete as a member of a recreational swim team. At the same time, the team strives to provide a fun, social environment where children and their parents can enjoy the sport of swimming on a competitive level, and where families can interact to promote a sense of community that will endure beyond the swim season.
The Dana Hills Swim Team was formed in 1977 as the "Aquaducks." This inaugural swim team consisted of only 50 or so swimmers and practiced in a four-lane, 17-yard pool. Despite the limitations this facility put on training and the lack of home meets, the team grew, and the swimmers’ performances improved. Over the past thirty-two years, the Dana Hills Swim Team has grown to become the premier recreational swim team in the Clayton / Concord community.
During the 1986 season, the team sought a name change to convey a more competitive spirit. The new nickname was put up to a vote by the swimmers to replace "Aquaducks." The initial vote ended in a dead heat with "Otters" tying with "Sea Slugs" as the new nickname. Head coach Chuck Edmonston had to lobby parents to have their children vote for Otters in the runoff, as the majority of the older age group swimmers wanted Sea Slugs. Luckily, Otters prevailed in the runoff.
By 1989, the team’s roster had swelled to over 100 swimmers, but because of the pool’s small size, DHST could not host any home meets. At the end of the 1989 season, a decision was made to build a new pool for the 1990 season. Under the leadership of Co-presidents Matt Mazzei and Steve Sutton, board members Keith Stothers, Ray Vignola and Nancy Scott, many DHST families and Dana Hills Homeowners contributed to make this dream come true. The team opened its 1990 season in a fabulous new 25-yard, 8-lane pool complete with coaches’ office and snack shack. This large pool in a gorgeous setting in the shadows of Mt. Diablo immediately transformed Dana Hills into one of the finest private swimming facilities in the county.
One of the most exciting meets the team participates in every year is the Concord City Swim Meet, held in early August each year. Parents and swimmers alike look forward to this three-day meet every year due to the competitive nature of the meet and the fun of swimming against friends from other teams in the area. In 1985, DHST was invited by the City of Concord to participate in their City Swim Meet for the first time. With 54 swimmers competing, the team finished in third place in the 1985 meet. In 1989 the Otter swimmers, coaches, and parents were honored at City Meet with the annual Sportsmanship Award. In 1990, the Otters celebrated their first City Meet championship by winning the City Meet B Division.
With the addition of the new swim facility at Dana Hills in 1990, the team quickly grew and, by 1993, boasted a roster of 250 swimmers. That growth helped lead to further successes at City Meet, with the team winning the A Division for the first time in 1992, and capturing 10 A Division championships in the next 11 years. During that same period, the team captured five additional B Division titles, giving the team a total of 17 City Meet Championships in the 15 years from 1990 through 2004!
In 1996, DHST was invited to join the highly-competitive Contra Costa Swim League (CCSL) along with traditional powers Walnut Creek Swim Club, LMYA and Pleasant Hill Dolfins. The East County Stingrays joined in 2002, further strengthening the competition. In addition to swimming dual meets against each of these teams during the year, the CCSL holds a league meet the week before the Concord City Meet each year. All five league teams participate in this two-day meet, with the swimmers allowed to swim all five strokes. This is a great opportunity for swimmers to swim and achieve personal best times in their “off strokes” which they do not have the opportunity to swim during dual meets.
The biggest meet of the year is the Contra Costa County Swim Meet, held in mid-August, the week after the Concord City Swim Meet. Swimmers who achieve county qualifying times in any of the 5 swim events are invited to this meet to compete against the best swimmers in the County. DHST sends many swimmers to this meet every year, both individually and in relays. The team’s best showings were winning the Contra Costa County Division II championship in 1998 and 1999, and placing second in Division I in 1995.
The team’s main fundraiser every year is the Devil Mountain Pentathlon. Started in 1995 by Mike and Toni Biel, the Pentathlon continues to be a huge success for the team. Held in mid-July, more than 500 swimmers trek from all over the county to compete with Dana Hills swimmers to see who can achieve the best overall time in the five swim strokes.
The DHST board, led by presidents Matt Mazzei (1990-1997), Cecilia Zefeldt and Judy Pousard (1998), Jim Zewan (1999), Carolyn Langford (1999-2000), Doug Dwyre (2001-2002), Alice Murray (2003), Jim Boessenecker (2004-2005), Rob Schussman (2006-2007), Grant Bazan (2008-2009), Dave Boland (2010), Tony Mancini (2011), Cathy Myers (2012-2013), Eric Skow (2014), Chris Curtis (2015-2018), and Joe Celentano (2019), along with a group of tireless and talented coaches have provided the leadership and impetus for the team’s success – a run that we look forward to extending into the future.