Age Group- I started swimming at Highlawn pool in St. Albans, WV at the age of 7. I joined the Greater Charleston Swim Association (later renamed to Sun Aquatics) at age 9; training year-round and participating in many meets. Greg Olsen became my coach at age 12 and brought with him experience, dedication and vast knowledge of training and development of young swimmers. Twice a day workouts, weight training, flexibility exercises and running was the core regimen that would shape my approach to life in many ways to come. As a result, I was a multiple State Champion over many years, participated in several National Junior Olympics and was nationally ranked as high as 6th in my age group. In 2000, I was honored to be named to the Greater Kanawha Valley Swimming Hall of Fame.
College- A personal visit from Coach Bill Miller was all I needed to decide that Clarion State College (later renamed to Clarion University of Pennsylvania) was where I wanted to attend college. He drove 7 hours to visit with Greg Olsen, myself and my parents and he drove the 7 hours back that night. Bill had coached the men's swim team to 9 straight PSAC championship titles and routinely finished in the top 5 at the NCAA Division II Championships. My class would add another 4 years of state titles and high caliber national results as well. Bill's personal commitment to the team and each individual was unparalleled. He convinced me to run for the Student Senate, an organization that I was involved with for 3 years and ultimately was voted as President. His easy-going character, decisions and influence helped to guide my day to day approach. I was a multiple PSAC State Champion and eight time NCAA Division II All-American as a swimmer at Clarion. Upon graduation, I was ready for the real world and never swam again for 17 years.
Masters- 1998 proved to be the year that would re-introduce me to swim training and competition. We had moved to Johnson's Pond in Coventry, RI the summer before. We enjoyed playing around in the water but I was always careful because I wore contacts. A friend, Laura Sacks, dropped by and gave us two pairs of swim goggles (for some reason she had extra!). These weren't the same goggles that I trained with in college! I could actually wear contacts in the goggles without fear of water seepage. I swam a few strokes for the first time in 17 years and felt great. I started "training" at the YMCA in Plainfield, CT on my lunch hour and found that I still had an efficient stroke. Ultimately, I wound up meeting Frank McQuiggan, an energetic, passionate and selfless man who was coach of SwimRI, a group of masters swimmers across RI. Masters swimming is open to persons aged 18 and over and includes swimming for fitness, triathlons, competitions, etc. Frank organized practices, meets, clinics, etc. and helped me recapture the love of swimming and competition that had long been dormant. Under his guidance, I have several top ten times in the country and the world in my age group.
Open Water- It was around 1998 that I was asked to attend the Save the Bay swim in support of my friend Al Hollenbeck. I was in awe with the event from the get go. 300 swimmers entered the choppy water on the Newport side of the Newport Bridge and swam hard for 40 minutes to over an hour to reach Jamestown on the other side. Packs of swimmers would finish together fighting for position and oxygen! Al, my buddy, finished hard and I could see that he gave it his all. The camraderie of the swimmers and families gathered at the tents after the swim soon convinced me that I wanted to join that party. I started swimming in open water at the Save the Bay swim in 2001 and the journey has taken me to push further and further to see just how far I can go. To read further details of my open water experiences go to the tab, My Open Water Swims.