Western Zone History

The four-zone concept was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1978 at the AAU convention when United States Swimming separated from the AAU.  The first Western Zone Representatives elected at the convention were Dean Dillingham, Pacific and Anne Supple, New Mexico.
1st Western Zone Championship was held in Concord, CA (Pacific) in 1979. It was the first zone meet ever in USS.  Two hundred eighty four swimmers participated in that meet. The meet was named “The Best In The West”.  The other zones did not hold a meet until 1980-81.

2nd annual meet was held in Albuquerque, NM (New Mexico) in 1980 and more LSC’s participated.  Many athletes, coaches and managers who went to see “Sandia” took the tram to the top of the mountain and watched gliders launch from the peak.

3rd annual Championship took place at Clovis, CA (Central California) in 1981.  Zone Directors watched many new all-star team records being established and general time improvements.

4th annual Championship was held in Richland, WA (Inland Empire) in 1982. Adam missed that meet, anyone having information about it please let him know.

5th annual Championship was held in Irvine, CA (Southern California) in 1983.  For the first time the number of splashes exceeded 4000.  On the first day of competition the meet started late because lightning hit the scoreboard on the previous night and other problems made our swimmers swim till late in the evening.  That night the newly organized meet committee decided that we would swim from both ends of the pool. At the convention in Cincinnati the Western Zone Directors established a committee to create a Western Zone Manual that would be distributed to all member LSC’s in the Western Zone.

6th Championship meet was held at Santa Clara, CA (Pacific) in 1984.  Several Olympians were in Santa Clara at that time.  To the delight of the swimmers many divers were diving off the tower and syncro swimmers were doing their practice in the adjacent pool. The Olympians signed hundreds of autographs. The manual was adopted by members of the Western Zone at the Convention in Indianapolis, and it was printed for the first time in 1984 by then Zone Director Adam Szmidt.

7th Championship meet was held at Beehive State at Cottonwood, UT (Utah) in 1985.  Everyone’s conversation was about the weather or to be more specific the heat during the month of August. The light breezes were welcome and the meet was a success.

8th Western Zone Championship was held in Colorado Springs, CO (Colorado) in 1986. Many people questioned the wisdom of the LSC’s voting to have a championship meet at seven thousand feet elevation.  Everyone must agree that having the meet in Colorado Springs wasn’t such a bad idea after all.  Just being able to see the Air Force Academy and swim in that huge complex gave swimmers a feeling of accomplishment.  A visit to the U.S. Olympic Training Center provided a good experience for all swimmers who attended this meet.

9th Championship meet was held at Mt. Hood, OR (Oregon) just a short distance east from Portland in 1987. The beautiful setting on the campus and the indoor 25 yard pool was a very popular place especially during the rain. Oregon Swimming did an outstanding job of feeding all of us watermelons. There were watermelons available at any time.

10th Championship meet was held at the Olympic facility in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California (Southern California) in 1988. The pool was complete but everything else was a total mess.  The bleachers were blocked off due to construction that was supposed to have been completed two months prior to the meet and pool side space was at a premium.  However, that did not stop swimmers from establishing new records and swimming their best. The competition was so intense that the last race of the last event decided the Champion team and the difference was just three points between Southern California and Pacific.

11th Championship meet was held in sunny and hot Tempe, AZ (Arizona) in 1989.  For the first time, over one thousand swimmers competed in the Western Zone Championships.  Arizona Swimming installed misters all around the pool to keep us cool and had a large supply of water and ice around the pool to make sure that everyone drank enough fluids.  Since many stores use misters or air conditioners in front of the stores our swimmers made sure that on the way back to the hotels after the evening competition they used the walkways that had the most cooling systems.

12th Championship meet was held in Clovis, CA (Central California) in 1990. Clovis can be almost as hot as Arizona but that year the weather cooperated with us and the temperature in Clovis was very pleasant in the high seventies. 

At the convention in Pittsburgh the delegates established that each zone will elect a coach director one year and a non-coach director the next year.

13th Championship meet was held at De Anza, Cupertino, CA (Pacific) in 1991.  A ten lane pool was used which helped shorten the duration of the meet and enabled the swimmers to have a good rest.  The newly established zone bylaws committee had its first meeting and reorganized the Western Zone Manual. At the convention in Louisville the new format for the manual was adopted and the Spirit Award was renamed the Adam Szmidt Spirit Award.

14th Championship meet was held at the Weyerhauser, King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way, WA (Pacific Northwest) in 1992. Many records were broken in this beautiful indoor facility  built for the Goodwill Games, including the heat record outdoors.

15th Championship meet was held at the International Swim Center in Santa Clara, CA (Pacific) in 1993. The weather was cooperative and the barbecue was excellent.  The Western Zone was happy to welcome Wyoming Swimming to membership in the zone.

16th Annual Championship was held in Hawaii on the beautiful island of Maui (Hawaii) in 1994. It was a long time in coming but the wait was worth it!!!  This meet will go into history as the most spectacular meet.  Hawaii Swimming met mainlanders with leis, flowers and gifts and everyone experienced real Hawaiian hospitality.  The teams spirits were so high that when the rain came on the last day of the meet during the finals the athletes danced and sang to the tune of “YMCA”.  The closing ceremony included a luau with a Hawaiian dancing group performing the hula, Polynesian dances and a fire dance. All we can say to you, Hawaii!!!  Mahalo and Aloha.

17th Western Zone Championship was held in Federal Way, WA (Pacific Northwest) in 1995. There was no record breaking heat and even the little bit of rain didn’t bother anybody since the facility is indoors. The pool is known to have fast water so it was no surprise to anyone that Western Zone records were falling during each session and new Junior National times were achieved. The Saturday “gala” was so successful that our swimmers could have danced all night. At the convention in Houston, Texas the meet format was adjusted so that events scheduled for Friday will end at approximately at the same time as the other days of competition.

18th Western Zone Championship was held in Gillette, WY (Wyoming) in 1996. This meet and this small city in the middle of prairies and miles away from anything were unforgettable as every swimmer, official, and coach, was greeted with red carpet treatment by city, county and school officials. Each athlete and staff member received a cowboy hat and was treated royally with real western hospitality. The meet was a little smaller than usual but the spirit of all the teams was at the highest level ever.

19th Western Zone Championship meet took place in the new facility in Roseville, CA (Sierra Nevada) in 1997. The Aquatic Center was named after local Olympian Summer Sanders. There were many great swims and many records were established. Over nine hundred individual swimmers competed,  and six hundred relay swims took place. The Western Zone offered open water competition for the first time and those swimmers who swam this event went to a nearby lake on Sunday to compete. Lets hope the open water competition will become a regular part of the Western Zone meet. 

20th Western Zone Championship was held in Federal Way, WA (Pacific Northwest) in 1998. There were over nine hundred swimmers who came to compete, but the difference this year was how the swimmers were placing. For the first time it was readily noticeable that swimmers from many LSC’s were placing in finals, scoring was very close, and no team was dominating the competition. New records and Junior times were established in many events by swimmers across many LSC”s.  It was a good meet.  At the Zone meeting that Thursday, it was recognized that there were three original members present,

Lyle Campbell from Pacific Northwest, Mike Saltzstein from San Diego Imperial and Adam Szmidt from Pacific.  Lyle modeled the T-shirt he received at the first meet held in Concord. It was very obvious that he received it twenty years ago.

21st Western Zone Championship was held at the new Aquatics Center in Grand Junction, CO (Colorado) in 1999.. Almost eight hundred swimmers came to compete in the last Championship of the century. Alaska swimmers had a sign on the back of their t-shirts stating “last championship of millennium”. Mike Saltzstein the out-going Zone Director thanked every one for help he received during the four years of being the Western Zone Director. Colorado Swimming together with the local Dolphins Swim Team did an outstanding job in running the meet.  

The Western Zone Championship concept has been designed to offer age group swimmers a stepping stone to the National Championships by offering an LSC ALL-STAR team travel meet with a National Championship-like experience. Every event in every recognized age group as well as relays make up the format. The Zone maintains records in all events. The competition has grown from 284 swimmers and 1307 splashes in 1979 to between 900 and 1000 swimmers with 4000 to 5000 individual swims. In the last several years we have come a long way. With the continued involvement and concern of dedicated zone volunteers who believe in the concept of zone championships, we will have many successful meets in the future. Adam Szmidt  11/24/99.

22nd Western Zone Championship was held at the new Aquatics Center in Fresno, CA (Central California) in 2000.  The meet was another great success with over 750 swimmers and 3800 splashes. The weather was cooperative and the hospitality was wonderful.  Unbeknownst to the zone this was to be Adam Szmidt’s final meet.  He passed away on November 29, 2000. His spirit, dedication and love for swimming and age group programs will always be felt within the Western Zone.

23rd Western Zone Championship was held at the Kihei Aquatic Center opened in January 2000 on the island of Maui. Mahalo, Hawaii swimming for hosting another great championship meet.  There were 824 swimmers with all 17 LSCs represented.  We had 4,233 individual splashes from the 472 ladies and 352 gentlemen and 606 relays. There were 60 individual event records set during the week 8 for the 12 and under age groups and 52 for the 13 and over.  We also had 19 relay records fall. The weather was beautiful--in the mid to high 80s--all week with tropical breezes challenging the finalists during the evening swims.  Of note, were the officials wearing Hawaiian shirts as their new formal final’s attire on Saturday night.  Mike Saltzstein presented a warm memoriam in honor of Adam Szmidt during the awarding of the Adam Szmidt Sportsmanship Award to Inland Empire.

24th Western Zone Championship was held at the McDonald’s Swim Stadium on the campus of Univ. of So. California.  This pool is extremely fast and 20 world records have been set in this pool.  The meet was hosted by: Arizona Swimming, Montana Swimming, and San Diego Imperial Swimming.  These LSC’S gave kudos to So.Cal. Swimming for providing a great venue, wonderful accommodations, and excellent food service. Coaches and team managers as well as the swimmers appreciated the convenience of all the amenities within walking distance on the enclosed campus. The swimmers responded with 27 new individual records, and 6 new relay records.  The Meet consisted of 2240 Girls splashes and 1942 boys splashes, totaling 4182.  There were 786 participants, 422 girls and 364 boys.  The afterglow barbeque and dance were very well done. Everyone had a great time at the party.  The host LSC’s presented shirts to all officials working the meet.  That is a much appreciated tradition to say thank you to officials from 17 LSC’s of the Western Zone.

25th  Western Zone Championship was held at Tempe Arizona in the pool at ASU.  This meet was the second year of the three LSC, two year bid.  The Silver anniversary of the Zone meet was accented with bombs bursting in air throughout the final session as a pro football game was being played at the stadium next door.  It was as extremely hot 112 degrees through most of the meet, but the water was very inviting as 19 individual records were broken and 7 relay records were bettered.  There were 474 female athletes entered and 354 men for a total 828 participants.  There were 4722 individual entries, 609 relay entries numbering 5331 total entries.  Actual individual splashes after scratches totaled 4421 and 537 relays.   All seventeen LSC’s attended the meet.  An ice skating party was a cool end to a hot meet.

26th   Under the smoky skies of Redding California, the Western Zone Championship Continued its rich tradition  of fast swimming. Ten (10) new relay Western Zone records were achieved all of those swims bettered the existing NAG records.  Seven (7)  individual Western Zone records  were recorded One of which shattered the NAG record for 10 and under Boys.  At times we wondered if the smoky skies came from the 12,000 acre forest fire to the north of us or from the sizzling swims that caught the water on fire.  We will all look forward to the seasons final standings.    There were 745  total athletes entered in 4437 total splashes.  The entire city of Redding welcomed the Western Zone Swimmers and the meet received very good press.  At the WZ business meeting many new concepts were discussed that will be brought to convention.  We all applauded the tremendous leadership provided by our Coach Director Ken Ebuna. He has been a calm and thoughtful representative for the Zone on the USA Swimming BOD.  His eligibility is over and we will miss him.  The facilities hosting the Western zone business meeting and the great park for the final party were very impressive and will be long remembered.

27th  Utah Swimming upheld the tradition of the “ Best of the West “   The meet ran smoothly and everyone had a good time.  The weather was just right and the venue was well set up.  Eight hundred thirty eight (838) swimmers from all 17 LSC;s  participated.  There were 4411 splashes of which 585 were relays.   Four relay records were bettered, and one individual record was tied.  Numerous National Reportable times were achieved.   At the business meeting, legislation pending and being voted on at convention was discussed.   Ways to improve the meet were also discussed and people at the meet wanted to vote on how to better the meet.  Those at the meet don’t usually go to convention.  This is to be discussed at convention.  The LSC reps gave a rousing thank you to John Kinney who  has served to the limit of his eligibility as Western Zone Director.  

28th   Central California Swimming and the Fresno Dolphins were the hosts of the 2006 Western Zone Championships.  There were 825 athletes, 4463 entries, and 570 relays total.  There were 5 new individual  Western Zone records set, and 5 new relay records set as well.  A note to mention, 4 15-16 girls beat the old 15-16 girls 1500 meter freestyle record of 18:03.55 (set in 2004).  Wyoming was the team winner for this years’ Adam Szmidt Spirit Award.  All in all a great meet, a great post meet pool party for the zone participants and Fresno did a great job of keeping the Western Zone Swimming Championships “The Best in the West”.

29th  Farmington (New Mexico), NM, was the site of the 2007 Western Zones Championship meet. The people from Four Corners Aquatic Team pulled out all the stops in providing a number of really great events away from the pool venue starting with the Native American Night that included a dinner and show the night before the meet even started. 680 athletes attended the meet with 3,733 individual splashes and 502 relays. There were 5 Western Zone records broken. The portable warm-up pools first used in Lahaina in 1994 and again in Gillette was used for warm-up outside the Indoor competition pool.

30th   The Meet in 2008 was held in Gresham (Oregon), OR, where the Mt. Hood Swim Team hosted the Western Zones Championship meet. One highlight was the large score board which could be used to show both graphics and video. It was a fairly fast meet with eight individual and ten relay records set. During one break in Finals all the swimmers lined up around the edge of the pool dancing and singing to ‘YMCA’ and the scoreboard showed the scene from a video camera up in the announcer’s box. Outgoing Western Zone Director, Vicki Marsh who is an official as well as a coach joined non-coach Director Larry Johnson as an Official during the last night’s Finals.

31st   Waipahu, Oahu (Hawaii), the meet in 2009 was the the third visit of Western Zones to the Hawaiian Islands. The meet was smaller than in past years only 16 LSC’s attending the meet, with 498 swimmers competing in 2,745 individual splashes and 367 relays. We had three individual records and three relay records broken. As the meet progressed, everyone was keeping an eye out for the weather forecasts as Category 4 Hurricane Felicia was east of the big island of Hawaii and heading right for the islands. Fortunately it slowed down and weakened and the meet ended before the remains of the now tropical depression reached the pool.