Were you picked on as a kid? Maybe never picked until last for sport teams in school? Did you really love a sport, but fall behind early or get injured, only to have your parents pull you — and you never got to live up to your full potential?
Was there a sport you always wanted to try but your parents either didn’t have the money or discouraged you from participating? Were you too afraid to try out? Or maybe you just didn’t fit in?
If any of these are true, odds are you are in pretty good company right here in the San Diego LGBT community. We’ve all been there.
I’m proud to say that we have so many great LGBT-oriented sports organizations here, and I encourage you to get off the couch and get involved in one or many of them.
Seek out a sport you loved as a child or teenager and truly embrace it, once again. Find a sport you’ve always wanted to try – and try it now – you’ll be surrounded by the most encouraging people you could ever find, and they are all people you have lots in common with.
As we move through “May Gray,” settle into “June Gloom” and prepare for one of the best climates in the country, this week I wanted to focus on a couple of sports that make the summer months even more fun.
** SWIMMING **
Love to dip more than just your toes in the water? Does the childhood swimmer in you get excited about the thought and thrill of competitive swimming?
Or maybe you just prefer to use water as your method of cardio — as opposed to running, the elliptical machine or the treadmill?
Come and get your splash on
Whatever your wish for the water, you need to know about Different Strokes Swim Team (DSST).
According to their website, DSST is “all-inclusive lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, fast, slow, healthy, happening, totally cool, incredibly fun masters SWIM team.”
The club was first organized in 1985, to prep local LGBT swimmers for the ’86 Gay Games in San Francisco. Since then, it has thrived as a way to keep people in the water all year round and have been sending swimmers to the Gay Games and local and state swim meets, ever since.
If you haven’t swam since your childhood years at the local watering pool or while in bootcamp back in the day, you may only be familiar with DSST through their beloved antics during the Pride parade every year.
They are definitely one of the more popular acts in the parade and hard to miss, marching along University Avenue with their kick-boards in hand, dropping to the pavement and “swimming” in unison. They also are the ones who greet you all over the festival with water for $1.00. Make sure you say hi to them this year.
I recently spoke to one of their board members – Robert Lucas – and believe me, there is much more to this group than the speedos and kick-boards you see at Pride. He filled me in on just about anything we’d ever want to know to get started with this fun club but their website is filled with so much more information. Take a quick swim of their website.
DSST is part of the US Masters Swim Association (USMS) and you must be a card-carrying member of USMS to participate with DSST (for insurance purposes). Fees are listed on the USMS registration site. This membership covers the insurance, gives you access to Master’s sanctioned swim events (1 to 2 per month), offers cumulative tracking of your swim times, etc.
To swim with DSST you have several ways to get wet. You can get a “Splash card” with a designated number of swims (7) for $35, have unlimited swims per month for $40, or get a 3-month unlimited card for $90. Right now they are having a special for $30 per month as long as you use Paypal.
For more information about DSST fees, click HERE.
These fees go to pool rentals, lifeguards, coaching staff, equipment, participation in San Diego LGBT Pride, administrative fees, and more. It is more than worth the money, especially if you compare it to gym fees.
If you want to come check DSST out and see if they are the group for you, jump right in, because your first month is free; but remember, you MUST have a USMS card before entering the pool.
You can swim all year round with DSST, but all their pools are out of doors, so it might get a tad chilly in the winter months. Many could care less as long as they are keeping their arms and legs moving.
Practice sessions are available every day of the year except Tuesday and Thursday.
During the week, you can swim at 6:30 pm, Saturdays at 11 am, and Sundays at 9 am. Take this into consideration when partying into the wee hours of the morning on Fridays and Saturdays. A pool session after a night of hard partying might not be so much fun.
Where is the water?
You may be as surprised as I was to find out that DSST has the use of SIX local pools around San Diego … yes … SIX. These swim locations consist of: Coronado Acquatix Complex (at Coronado High School), Clairemont Pool, Helix High School, Mission Valley YMCA, Santee YMCA, and Tierrasanta Pool.
Locations and more info about each pool can be found HERE. With so many options available, there is surely one close to you.
The only requirement to swim with DSST is that you can tread water; however, Robert wants everyone to understand, this is not a swimming school. Each session is a real swim practice, with a real swim coach, a set routine and swim lanes based on appropriate skill levels.
Although Robert said females are definitely a minority overall, he sees quite an uptick of female participation when the women’s coaches are on site. Gee, I wonder why that is. Check out the coaches’ bios HERE.
When asking further about the skill levels of the swim lanes, I had to laugh when Robert told me that at each pool session, the coaches set up both competitive lanes, as well as a “social” lane (for those who are slower and take more breaks).
I instantly pictured a host of Kathy Griffin’s gays in the pool, clinging tightly to their pink flamingo floaties and holding their martini glasses high above the water, careful not to spill a drop. From my conversation with Robert, I assured myself that this is not the case.
DSST sponsors one or two swim meets per year and participates in as many Southern California meets as possible. Swimmers are registered under the club, but this is an individual sport, so each swimmer is responsible for his or her travel and entrance fees.
Right now many are gearing up for the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) swim-meet in Hawaii, taking place the week before Pride. There is still time to get in the pool and train for Hawaii.
“We want to do everything we can to encourage people to swim,” Robert said.
With pool locations all over the county and swim sessions almost every night of the week, what possibly could be your excuse for not getting wet with Robert and the DSST?
** GOLF **
San Diego has one of the best climates in the world for year-round golfing.
Who doesn’t love golf? Okay, well I know many of you probably don’t, but for those of you that do, there are some great options to hit the links with other LGBT golfers, not only in San Diego, but up in the Palm Springs area, as well.
Hey ladies, let’s grab those links and go!
Right here in San Diego, a retired USMC Gunny sergeant (who is now a professional dog sitter), leads the charge when it comes to finding you deals on fairways and putting greens in the county. Vicky Minnetti has been running the Lady Links golf club since 1996 and hasn’t skipped a beat in all those years.
All skill levels are welcome and each month she organizes outings at the very best courses all over San Diego county, and she often sets up jaunts outside of the county, as well. In the past she has organized excursions that have taken Linksters (as she calls them) to Hawaii, Pebble Beach, Las Vegas (Primm), and Rosarito in Baja California.
She’s done all of her coordinating via email since the group’s inception, but she just recently launched her Facebook page, so we expect to see even more exciting things on the horizon for both Vicky and her Linksters. Right now it’s a “closed group,” so you may need to see Vicky to get added, but make sure you get on her email list so you are kept informed on her monthly golf outings.
Her website is also a wealth of information, and you can learn more about Vicky and her many other interests while you are cruising the pages of the site for more information.
Vicky has a heart of gold, so she considers membership to her club “optional,” but I highly recommend you join this club. For just $35 per year per person ($30 each, per couple), you get membership prices (she spends lots of time negotiating the best group rates she can get) at some of the best golf courses you’ll ever play, access to low-priced and sometimes free golf clinics, product discounts, and a goody bag full of golf goodies, hand-stuffed by Vicky herself.
You don’t have to become a member to join Lady Links on the golf course, but the membership fee helps off-set Vicky’s time and efforts, and once you start attending some of her events, you will see exactly how much time and effort she puts into them. Note: You’ll also pay a slightly higher fee for each outing if you choose not to join.
For the month of May, the group just took to the links at RedHawk golf course in Temecula. Next up, rumor has it that they are heading to Pala Mesa Resort in late June. Make sure you get in on that!
There’s fun in the sun for guy golfers, too
But hey, guys, you can get in on the fun, too. If golfing in the desert is more your style, check out the Stonewall Golfers. This mixed guy and gal group is headquartered in Palm Springs.
Palm Springs and its surrounding areas have some of the most beautiful courses in the world, and it is home to some of the most popular tournaments on both the PGA and LPGA circuit.
The organizers behind Stonewall Golfers find a way each year to put you on some of those championship courses, for a great price. There is nothing like smacking a golf ball down the same fairway as the one you just watched Rosie Jones use just the year before during the Kraft Nabisco (Dinah Shore) tournament.
Don’t be intimidated, they also queue up on many of the other fabulous courses throughout the valley, too, and encourage participation from all skill levels. They also generally always have a lunch or breakfast involved in their outings, too, which gives you the chance to meet other golfers and make a few friends.
The Stonewall Golfers give special rates to their members, but like Lady Links, you don’t have to join their club to play with them. Check out their schedule, plan a trip to Palm Springs and sign up for an event, today.
Keep in mind that it gets awfully HOT in the Coachella Valley during the summer months. Take lots of water and sun screen, and find any way possible to keep yourself cool. Drinking your day away on the links is not always a good idea on hot summer days, either, since alcohol will dehydate you.
Be smart and stay safe.
** This and that **
Each week I will profile more LGBT sports in San Diego. If you don’t see it here, it does not mean it does not exist. If you have more questions about these or any another sport(s) in San Diego, or have a club or group you want me to cover, email me at [email protected].
Speaking of which, I got an email from a reader last week looking for LGBT VOLLEYBALL in San Diego. I know that through my research there are avid volleyball organizations in other cities, but I never found one here in San Diego. Please prove me wrong, because I cannot believe this is true.
Shoot me an email and let me know where someone seeking an LGBT-oriented volleyball group might exist. THANK YOU.