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Meet GTD Swimmer Patti Vollmer

Goal setting for the fun of it

Greta Van Meeteren | November 26, 2010

A self-employed CPA primarily focusing on taxes for individuals and small businesses, Patti Vollmer’s work keeps her "crazy busy" from January through April. The rest of the year she works a bit, but she is mostly busy with lots of family and volunteer activities, including, senior high youth team leader for her church, 4-H volunteer wearing many hats, girl scout leader, etc. Some of these volunteer activities will be changing soon as Vollmer is almost an empty nester—she and her husband have two daughters, a senior in college and a senior in high school. They are not swimmers like she was at their age. "My parents spent their lives at the pool, but I have spent my life in a barn since my daughters own and show llamas," she says.

Vollmer began swimming at about age 10 when her little brothers joined the swim team in the neighborhood and then at the local YMCA. Swimming was a big part of their family life then. "I still love a family picture we have of all four of us lined up in our team suits with our medals around our necks and in front of a huge bulletin board my mom had with all our ribbons on it," says Vollmer. She ended up swimming on a team through freshman year of college, and then she just had too much else to do. Even though she was never "the best on the team," it was a huge part of her life and she loved it.

Vollmer then got too involved with other things in life and stopped swimming. She would periodically swim laps at a pool in the summer, but nothing even semi-regular until about five years ago, when she found out that she could swim laps at the local high school pool early morning or during lunch. She started swimming on her lunch hour several days a week. Because her husband had lost his job, swimming was a stress relief for Vollmer at that time. There were a few "regulars" in the pool and someone would write up a workout and these swimmers would do that workout together—nothing formal. "I definitely enjoyed this and knew it was good for me, but "tax time" would come and I would not be able to swim for months, then get back to it for a month or so and then summer would come and my family schedule would get in the way."

Then, a little over a year ago, the high school pool formally started a Masters team with a coach. They offered some early morning and some lunchtime options. Vollmer found that most of the committed people were going to swim at 5:15 a.m., so she decided to try to make the commitment to herself to do that. "The team has been growing and growing and it is very exciting," she says. She swims early on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. The group does between 2,500 and 3,000 yards. The coaches are great and help a lot with technique. "It is surprising how much some techniques have changed since I swam in the old days," Vollmer says.

Many team members are triathletes rather than "old" swimmers. They convinced Vollmer to do the "Go Girl" sprint triathlon (all female) this summer so she had to start biking and running ("ok I really don't run it is a slow jog," she says). That was a fun, different accomplishment for her. Because she likes swimming the best, the swim part of it was way too short to her liking. And now Vollmer is thinking about doing a longer triathlon next summer—although she doesn't know how she could do the run part then. "So maybe an open water swim is in the works."

Vollmer swam in her first Masters meet in October of 2009, almost 30 years after her last swim meet in college. No one else joined her at that meet as her team was really just getting started, but this October, seven of them swam in a Masters meet. They even had a sign to hang in the pool area and t-shirts and caps to match.

The team hopes many more will join them next time. Vollmer says that she is not very fast, but a college swimmer was timing her on her 100-meter fly and when she was done he told her she had the most beautiful butterfly stroke. "So I am slow but pretty," she jokes.

"The meet was relatively small and I joked after that I did really well in the meet, I got five firsts and two seconds. Or if I were to be honest, I didn't beat anyone all day, because for the five firsts, I was the only one in my age group, and for the two seconds, only my teammate and I swam the event and she beat me," says Vollmer. Either way, she says it was fun and she looks forward to swimming in a meet again.

Because of her new team—swimming together and the encouragement from members and coaches, she only missed about two and a half weeks of swimming last year at the very end of tax time, rather than over three months as in the past.

She participates in GTD because she has always been a goal-oriented person and being a CPA, a numbers person too. So GTD is just natural to her. She is pretty excited this year because she is ahead of her target and she has added the biking some too so she is doing well with the physical activity this year. "I definitely thank God for my health and my new swimming friends," says Vollmer.

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