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Given what Jill McCormick just said, I had no choice. I had to ask Midori Dobson, an SRJC swimmer, a stupid question. Actually it was three of them.

After you swam the 400 IM, was an ambulance summoned?

“No,” Dobson said.

Maybe you were given smelling salts to revive you?

“Nope,” Dobson said.

How about a chocolate chip cookie to restore energy?

The freshman from Fairfield just shook her head. This is what happens when you need to clear your head of ridiculous stupidity. You need to flush it out with more of it because, well, intelligence and fairness and common sense just aren’t enough. If it was, McCormick wouldn’t have spent the past seven years asking for intelligence, fairness and common sense from her fellow junior college swim coaches in California.

Instead, she got this reason, over and over, like a robot voice stuck on rewind.

“It’s going to be bad for our sport. Women swimming (at the California Community College level) will die off. This won’t work. The training will be too hard. Stop trying.”

What was it that McCormick was asking that provoked the death scenario? What was it that led to heated arguments, screaming, threats of lawsuits, coaches walking out of a room? What was it, which led one coach to say the following to McCormick after a raucous meeting?

“Honey, we’re still friends, aren’t we?” as the man put his arm around her shoulder.

McCormick was asking — and you think legalizing marijuana is radical — that women swimmers at California junior colleges swim the same distance in competition as the JC men in this state. That’s it. That’s all of it. It’s that simple. Or so you would think.

It was four events. The men would swim the 200 backstroke; the women would swim the 50 back. The men would swim the 200 breastroke; the women would swim the stroke for 50 meters. The men would swim the 200 butterfly; the women would swim 50. The men would swim the 400 individual medley; the women would swim 100.

In every other state in America, the community college distances are the same for both genders. That made sense because those would be the distances a swimmer would need to swim at the NCAA four-year level. But not in California! This left McCormick stunned and speechless.

This is California, the Left Coast, and all those freaking liberals. Digest this factoid, courtesy of the U.S. State Department: Women’s History Week first was celebrated in Sonoma County in 1978. Three years LATER Congress passed a resolution for National Women’s History week.

“I kept going to coaches and asking them ‘What am I missing? Make me understand!’” McCormick said. “I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I kept hearing: They won’t want to be trained for those long distances. Women will be discouraged.”

Saying something like that to Jill McCormick is like waving that red flag in front of bull. McCormick may not snort like that bull but she will charge … and charge … and charge. All that verbiage about the training being too hard for women made the hair on the back of her neck stand up.

It was code she was hearing and she knew it. Women are soft. Women lack true work ethic. Women don’t belong in those manly events that test manliness with manly men doing manly things in a manly grunting manner.

Let’s pause for the moment for Jill The Bull to paw the ground for the charge.

“They were smart enough to know not to utter straight-out sexist remarks,” McCormick said. “So they couched it in women being discouraged. I wasn’t being taken seriously. It was like they would listen to me and then: ‘Let her do her little rant and we’ll just go back to doing what we always have done.’”

Go away, little girl. Women everywhere who have fought for equality on the athletic field or otherwise, those women have felt that dismissive tone.

Bewildered that this fight for women’s equality was in California, McCormick was even more bewildered she met more resistance from JC coaches in Northern California than from the more conservative Southern half of the state.

“I know I shouldn’t say this but some of them (coaches) don’t care about the job they are doing or about the swimmers themselves,” she said.

“Sounds like a male ego thing to me,” I said. “Nobody is going to tell me what to do.”

McCormick nodded in agreement. As the years went on McCormick grew both more aggressive and disillusioned at the same time.

“I’d go up to them and say: ‘This is going to happen. Make no mistake. Do you want to be on the wrong side of history when it does?’” she said.

Their response?

“They’d shrug,” said McCormick, 43. She was preparing to go to ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CNN to publicize the unfairness. Instead, she received the satisfaction that she wore them out with her persistence that fairness indeed is not a subjective term. This spring, for the first time at the community college state meet, women swam those four events.

For the seventh time under McCormick SRJC women swimmers and divers won state. That was satisfying of course. This even more so: The Bear Cubs women became state champions by just finishing last the last race, the 400 freestyle relay. The meet was that close.

Saturday, at halftime of the SRJC-Delta football game, the women were presented with their state championship rings. In all the emotion that accompanied the ceremony, one emotion could not be seen — appreciation for Jill McCormick.

“I don’t think there’s another coach who could have fought like that,” Dobson said.

McCormick was flattered by that compliment and was not embarrassed either when she was given another one.

Well-behaved women rarely make history.

To contact Bob Padecky email him at bobpadecky@gmail.com.

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