While turkey trots are the activity du jour on Thanksgiving morning, there’s a different tradition taking place in northern California. For the past 15 years, the Walnut Creek Masters Swim Club has kicked off the holiday by diving in for a special four-course “buffet” of swimming known as the Practice to Feast On.
The tradition was established by coach and founder Kerry O’Brien, who wanted to offer members of the close-knit group a way to spend time together on the holiday. “This workout serves as a celebration of our swim family before dashing off to spend time with our blood families,” said coach Steve Stahl, who took over for O’Brien after his retirement in September 2021. “Needless to say, it is our most crowded workout of the year.”
More than 140 people dive in to the pool’s 20 lanes for the 90-minute workout. Due to the popularity of the workout, non-members and out-of-town guests are not allowed, though a few younger members on college breaks have been known to sneak in. If it sounds chaotic, it is—but in the best kind of way. “Everyone is thankful and appreciative of their fellow lane mates,” Stahl said. “The positive vibe, even with seven or eight swimmers to a lane, is a sight to behold.”