DAP Members Manuel Banks
and Dr. Cecil Gordon
sit down for Q&A session on USASwimming.org
Please talk about your connection to swimming?
Unlike most volunteers and staff associated with USA Swimming, I don’t have a swimming background at all. I have always enjoyed sports and played baseball and football in high school. But I did not learn to swim until my freshman year at the University of North Carolina, where passing the swim test was required in order to graduate. I’ve always believed that swimming was one of the best courses I’ve ever taken in school, along with typing when I was in the 10th grade in high school.
More recently, my interest and background in swimming has increased significantly because my son (Senior) and my daughter (Junior) are both competitive swimmers.
Why did you become a USA Swimming official?
I decided to become a USA Swimming official when my son chose to start to swim in competition. That was probably in 1998 or so. As a parent it is important to me to be involved in whatever activities my children choose to participate. As I began to attend swim meets, it quickly became apparent to me that my personality would not allow me to sit at the pool all day and watch him swim only a few minutes each session of the meet. I had to figure way to become more engaged and active. Officiating offered me that opportunity.
I never imagined I would have this much fun as an official. I’ve been fortunate to work the Olympic Trials and the Pan Pacific Championships. The excitement at those meets was unmatched by anything I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve worked a number of national championship meets and have served as a Starter at some of the high level meets. I have also worked at the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships, serving as a starter at the women’s meet. Those meets were truly special because of the collegiate spirit and the intensity of the teams.
Recently, I’ve begun to officiate Open Water events. That’s been fun, too. Being outdoors in a boat on a nice day is always enjoyable. In August I was one of the officials for the Manhattan Match Swim, a marathon competition around New York City. The views of the skyline from a boat were indescribable.
And I might add, it has been a wonderful experience working as an USA Swimming official. I’ve been to places I would have not otherwise gone. I’ve seen things I never would have seen. I’ve been able to see the sport of swimming from a perspective that only a few people can appreciate. Equally important to me have been the many special friends I’ve made. Swimming officials are a tight-knit group, very much an extended family. We all look forward to seeing friends again when we have an opportunity to work at a meet.