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From the Executive Director: U.S. Masters Swimming's Journey

How I learned to swim... and found Masters Swimming

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I learned to swim as a youngster, playing the game “Marco Polo” with my brothers in our grandparents’ swimming pool. I also swam a couple of years with summer league programs. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I had my first swim team experience. I had the minimal talent required to swim four years at Georgia Southern University, and it was there that I discovered my love of swimming.

After college, I swam on several Masters teams and ended up qualifying for the 2000 Olympic Trials at the age of 28. At the Trials, I was in an outside lane in the first heat, which is reserved for those who barely make the qualifying time. Nonetheless, I was in the big dance and my swimming dreams were fulfilled. Or so I thought.

Inspired by Michael Jordan and the “Just Do It” era, I told my college swim coach that I wanted a career in sports marketing. Thinking I had starry eyes for what sports marketing meant, he gave me a job cleaning our football stadium. Two years later, surprised I hadn't quit, he gave me a job selling tickets via telemarketing and selling program ads by cold calling businesses on foot.

When I graduated, my alma mater created a sports marketing internship for me and paid for my grad school. I learned that when you just won't quit, and you carry yourself with integrity, perseverance, and the right attitude, it will pay off in the long run.

Twenty-four years later, I’m having fun leading a national governing body in the swimming industry. My swimming journey and dream of inspiring others to swim continues on.

Today, I consider myself a fitness swimmer. Balancing a rewarding and busy career with twin toddler boys doesn't leave as much time as I'd like for training. I sit on several industry boards and I'm on a mission to make sure our favorite form of exercise is no longer the best kept fitness secret in this country.

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Updated July 18th, 2014 at 03:30 PM by Rob Butcher

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