A conversation with Ed Duncan,
Former General Counsel and Board Member of SCS and The Voice of USC and the PAC 12
In warm and sunny Southern California, our weather is perfect for swimming year-round, outdoors. That’s one reason why So Cal became a hotbed of swimming.
According to Ed Duncan, the voice of USC Trojan swimming and PAC -12 Championships since the early 1990s and former general counsel of SCS, “demographics are key to the success of swimming in our area.”
Speaking about swimming in the 1970s, Duncan said, “It was tougher for poor families to participate in swimming due to the expense and the heavy parental involvement. In addition, there was a lack of facilities in poorer neighborhoods. On the other hand, kids who grow up in the wealthiest households,wouldn’t put in the hours of hard work that were necessary to be successful in swimming,” he said. “That why swimming in Southern California was a middle-class sport.”
Duncan described the post-World War II boom which brought changes to Southern California’s economy. “Industries such as aerospace, hydrocarbon, and other industries provided high-paying, middle-class jobs. Areas such as San Fernando Valley and Mission Viejo thrived and had many middle-class families and good facilities supported by tax dollars.”
Parks and Rec departments were subsided by taxpayers, so Southern California became a hotbed of swimming. There were many great communities with facilities, schools, and park districts. In the 1970s, there was plenty of public support, which people don’t appreciate today.
Duncan and his wife Kathie became involved with SCS after moving to Southern California. Their kids joined a swim club in the Ventura area. Because of their swim backgrounds (Ed swam for Cal and Kathie for Cal Poly Pomona), they jumped in and got involved. Kathie, who Ed calls a “very capable stroke coach” most recently coached with CLASS Aquatics and once headed her own team, Maverick Swimming.
In his numerous roles with SCS, Ed became a part of the transition of the LSC from the AAU office in North Hollywood along with Mary Jo Swalley and Christine (Tina) Martin. Also, he was in charge of programs for the Coastal committee. He was integral in the restructuring of the professional board, which began as a volunteer organization, which hired its first executive director. He said the paperwork was significant. As the first general counsel, he attempted to attend meetings of each committee and put many miles on his car.
He discussed the development of travel funds for SCS. His daughter made a national cut, but the club couldn’t send the coach so he paid for the travel funds out of his own pocket. The board started a fund to offset travel fees for coaches from a portion of entry fees. The funds were allowed to grow in the market. The funds can be used to help offset travel expenses for swimmers or coaches, and clubs have a say in how they use their funds. According to Duncan, SCS pays out $200k to 300k per year.
In programs, Duncan said the board felt a need to balance age group with senior meets. So, they came up with the Zone meet, created for age group swimmers.
“Then Northern California backed out because they kept getting beat. The North American Challenge Cup (NACC) was created as an alternative,” Duncan said. At NACC, SCS athletes ages 11 – 18 compete against swimmers from areas including Canada, Mexico, Pacific Northwest and Central and Northern California and the Gulf.
Talking about the great facilities in Southern California, Duncan mentioned Industry Hills, which was state of the art in its day. Today, it’s a distant memory. Another great facility was built by Phillip Morris, who owned Mission Viejo. They understood that building infrastructure sold homes. More than a half century ago, they designed their community around sports and recreation to attract young families to buy homes. The Marguerite Aquatics Center, which opened in 1972, featured an eight-lane 50-meter pool, a 25-meter pool with a 10-meter dive tower and a shallow training pool for children. Home to the Nadadores, the facility currently has a $7 million-plus plan for renovations.
“One of the main problems facing swimming today,” Duncan said, “is the financial aspect of maintaining public entities. State legislatures don’t give money back to the cities. There are many shortfalls.”
Duncan talked about a little-known fact that the by-laws of SCS allow for athlete representatives. The provision is that athletes need to be a junior or senior in high school. “There is no specified amount of time, so they can rotate in kids. It’s an accomplishment, serving on board, and it will make you stand out on your college application.”
Another note of interest to parents of swimmers: Duncan said that swimming can be helpful for admissions into college. “Most colleges flag applications. All athletic departments flag, the music department has the ability. Most academic departments can also flag applications.” He noted that it’s very tough today for many middle-class kids to get accepted into the college of their dreams.“It’s up to parents to make inquiries.”
Ed and Kathie Duncan moved from Southern California in 2015 and are greatly missed. Our swim community is what it is today because of the generous time and commitment of the Duncans.
January 2015 from USC Swimming: “Friday will also be the final meet for long-time announcer Ed Duncan, a retiring attorney and a former captain of the California swim team who graduated from Berkeley in 1966. He has been a volunteer announcer for USC swimming for the past 23 years.”