Local swim club celebrates a milestone

By Jeff Praught | Dugout Chatter

‘Different Strokes’ sees 30 years in San Diego

This spring marked the 30th anniversary of the Different Strokes Swim Team (DSST), San Diego’s LGBT swim club. DSST features a membership of over 100 men and women, while hundreds of other members have participated in team events in the past.

The origin of DSST dates back to 1985, when the group was formed in order to prepare for the first-ever Gay Games, held in San Francisco that year.


The Different Strokes Swim Team is celebrating their 30th year in the water. Here members are shown at one of their annual Bart Hopple Memorial Swim meets. (Photo by Gary Karsten.)

Just two years later, San Diego had already begun hosting the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics championships. Its members have participated in Gay Games as far away as Amsterdam (1998) and Sydney (2002), and some current DSST members will be participating in this year’s IGLA meet Aug. 5 – 8 in Stockholm, Sweden.

On Sept. 12, the club will be commemorating its anniversary with a 30th anniversary swim meet, an event that also includes a Friday evening happy hour.

DSST is actively recruiting new members, regardless of experience or skill level, and even offers a full month of free membership for those who join. Memberships can be as low as $40 per month, or “drop-ins” pay $10 per session to use the pool.

“[We] welcome all swimmers without discrimination,” said DSST President Joe Clauson. “[When I joined] I was primarily a runner, but took some night classes to learn all strokes and endurance. After I felt comfortable, and after several of those swimming classes, I finally took a leap to show up to a masters practice to see if I’d feel welcome.”

Part of that welcoming experience is created by the practice schedule. Swimmers have an opportunity to choose among practices that are on different days during a week, including weekends, and which offer themes designed to cater to individual preferences.

Weekday sessions vary in theme: aerobic/anaerobic workouts, individual medley, middle-distance free (about 200 yards), sprints (under 100 yards), strokes, and distance (400-plus yards). The weekend practices are more intense. The group labels them “power workouts” because they are a little longer.

Training locations include Allied Gardens, Tierrasanta, the Brian Bent Memorial Aquatics Center (BBMAC) in Coronado, the Mission Valley YMCA, and the Cameron Family YMCA in Santee. Practice times vary depending on the day of the week and all pools are 25 yards in length; the BBMAC pool can be set up for 50-meter swims.

DSST is a co-ed group, so men and women practice in the pools together. Competitions, however, are scored separately. There are co-ed relay teams consisting of two men and two women.

DSST spends time together outside of the pool as well. Members organize potlucks, movie nights, birthday parties and fundraisers.

The group’s charitable endeavors are highlighted by its annual Bart Hopple Memorial Swim, a swim-a-thon designed to raise money to assist people living with HIV/AIDS. DSST has raised thousands of dollars for this cause over the past 15 years.

The group’s website,, is a treasure trove of information, ranging from online registration and practice schedules to a detailed list of valuable swimming and training tips.

You can also meet members of the swim club at San Diego Pride this year, as the group will be participating in the parade and festivities. DSST can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@DiffStrokeSwim).

SD Hoops summer league

SD Hoops summer league kicked off its third annual summer slate on July 1. Founded in 1999, this basketball league for LGBT athletes and their friends has remained strong despite nearly 100 percent turnover of its membership over the past decade. Under the guidance of first-year Commissioner Noah Ingram, the league has changed venues, away from its traditional Golden Hill Rec Center location and up the road a bit, to the Boys & Girls Club (Ron Roberts Branch) in Linda Vista.

Six teams are vying for a summer league title, including new sponsor Dog House Bar & Grill. Each team consists of eight players (men or women) and skill levels vary across the board.

The group often gathers for social events in sponsor bars (Flicks, HBC, the Loft, Pecs, Urban MO’s) to watch college and NBA games.

The fall season typically begins in October, with more teams and a longer schedule that concludes in March. League fees are the lowest — per game — of any league in town. Anyone interested in learning more about the league should visit or email Noah at

—Jeff Praught is actively involved in the LGBT sports community, having participated in softball, basketball, football and pool as a player, and serving on several boards in recent years. He can be reached at


  1. Rex Toltschin says:

    Rock on DSST! I swam with you 1986-1988, loved every minute of it. Was here for the IGLA Championships late 90’s with Team Dallas Aquatics – Great Event! (As usual).

  2. Daniel says:

    Hello,I want to join the swim team, I’m a recreational swimmer and take water aerobics 3-4 times a week. I’m a bi male and want to get involve in water activities. I heard of this Club and was recommended by a friend during pride weekend. I swim about an hour every day at my local gym pool and want to get involve…also I’m a dj and I can provide music gear.


    Daniel duran

  3. Morgan says:

    Hello Daniel – all I can do is pass to you their contact info, which is in the story itself. The group’s website is DSST can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@DiffStrokeSwim).Good luck!

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