Watersports

JOHN MATESICH – With 55 years of public safety service in San Pedro, Calif., and South Bay beaches as a lifeguard, John Matesich is possibly the oldest active beach lifeguard in the U.S. Matesich holds 53 National Titles in age group competition for swimming, paddling, rowing, running, and surf ski, with 24 Silver & 13 Bronze finishes. He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as a member of a group of seven South Bay paddlers who set a record for an English Channel crossing.

JANET EVANS – Janet Evans, a three-time U.S. Olympian in swimming (1988,1992 and 1996), is a native of Southern California. Dubbed the “American Sweetheart” of swimming, Evans has won four gold medals and one silver medal, however it was as a member of a very special relay team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that brought her the most fame. Evans ran with the Olympic Torch on it’s trek across America and, in one of the most emotional sports moments of all time, it was she who passed it off to Muhammad Ali to light the flame that towered above the Atlanta Stadium. Evans has won 45 U.S. National Titles and is the only female swimmer to hold three world records concurrently, 400, 800 and 1500 Freestyle. In 1989 she also won the Sullivan Award, the nation‘s top award for amateur athletes.

MARK SPITZ – Mark Spitz was propelled into the international spotlight when he won seven swimming gold medals and broke seven world records at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. However, his swimming records began long before the Olympics. Born in Modesto, California, in 1950, Spitz held 17 national age group swimming records at the age of 10. Furthermore, in the 1968 Olympics at Mexico City, Spitz captured two gold, one silver and one bronze medal. In 1971 he won the Sullivan Award as the outstanding U.S. amateur athlete.

MIKE STAMM – World class swimmer, Mike Stamm won two silver medals and one gold medal while representing the United States at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. A backstroke specialist, Stamm took individual silver medals for the 100 and 200 meter events and the gold as part of an American 4 x 100 meter medley relay team that included Mark Spitz. Stamm was born in San Pedro and moved to San Diego as a teen, where he was a High School All-American swimmer. He later won numerous Big Ten and NCAA championships while swimming for the University of Indiana.

PAT YELOVICH – Pat Yelovich is San Pedro’s greatest ever swimmer and water polo player. In the mid-1960s, he was the L.A. City champion in several events and still holds the San Pedro High School record for the 200 yard individual medley. He earned All-American honors at Harbor Junior College and Long Beach State College as a swimmer and was a unanimous All-American in water polo. In 1973, Yelovich was a member of the USA National Water Polo Team.

JOE BIRD was a successful swimming and water polo coach at Fermin Lasuen and Mira Costa high schools. He trained several All-Americans that became L.A. City champions, collegiate swimmers and Olympic medalists. Joe also founded the Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguards.

MAUREEN O’TOOLE – Widely regarded worldwide as the greatest female water polo player of all time, Maureen O’Toole began her water polo career 23 years ago at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., playing on a boys water polo team because a girls team did not exist. She was named the Most Valuable Player of the U.S. Women’s National Team 15 times, U.S. Water Polo Female Athlete of the Year five times and World Water Polo Female Athlete of the Year six times. She has been named to the All-American Team for U.S. Water Polo a record 28 times. She came out of retirement in 2000 to play for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Water Polo Team in Sydney, Australia, where she led the team to a silver medal.