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Biography / Open Water

Bob Unger

Trimmer, faster, better, swimmer

Suzi Green | January 2, 2014

New York resident Bob Unger, 56, swims with the Seawolves Masters in the Metropolitan LMSC. He started as a middle distance runner in high school and college, but an injury and life got in the way of his keeping up with running. About 20 years ago, he suffered a vertebral fracture, which went undiagnosed until relatively recently. As he got older, the pain worsened and his middle thickened. He tried to get back into running, but the pain was too great. He decided to try swimming instead. He had swum as a kid, but had never really developed a strong interest in it.

He did some research and discovered the USMS website, which led him to find the Seawolves. His new teammates were accepting and supportive, and they made the workouts fun. He slowly worked his way up to a more advanced level. As he improved, he lost weight and began to get in shape.

Married 33 years, Unger has two grown children, and they and his wife marveled at his newfound activity and the fact that he was exercising consistently, two mornings a week at a shockingly early 5:30 a.m. As he began to feel better and the weight came off, he finally opted to have the spinal fusion surgery he’d been putting off. He says his only regret was waiting so long to have the surgery.

Swimming and his new friends opened up new worlds for Unger. He started doing more and more open water swims, some of which they called “eco-adventure” swims. They’d pick points of interest for starting and ending, and then just swim. The distances went from a couple of miles to 5K and 10K. These events got him interested in marathon swimming. His longest solo swim to date was a 10-mile swim he completed two years ago in Newport, Vt. He has come close to finishing other, longer solo swims, too. Though he enjoys the long events, he enters them primarily to keep up his interest in training and thusly stay in shape.

Unger tries to swim three times—covering about 10 miles total—per week, and his flexible career as a pension consultant allows him to do so most weeks. He gets some coaching from teammates and a coach, but he admits he swims primarily for fun and camaraderie and to prepare for upcoming events. Unger credits GTD and his FLOG with giving him the tools he needs to set goals and keep track of his swimming. He hopes to swim 600 miles in 2014. 

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