- Human Interest
Going the Distance, Shark Style
Charles Dean, 46, lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., close to the beach and the pool. This married father of three grown sons and three grandsons says he feels like a 30-year-old most of the time, but by the end of a main swim set, he feels his true age. All 46 years of it. That’s because he swims a lot.
Dean grew up a swimmer, training with an age group team at the local YMCA. He swam in high school and for a club team before retiring from swimming at age 17. He returned to the sport in March 2011, at first easing into the group and building himself back up. He steadily worked his way up to his team’s so-called Shark Group, an avid group of swimmers who enjoy “insane swim activities.” (His photo shows the Shark Group after one such activity, a 15,000-meter workout.)
Dean works as a behavior analyst for the Medicaid program and enjoys windsurfing, fishing, sailing, rollerblading, and spending time with his family when he’s not working.
In addition to those other outdoors activities, Dean swims every day of the week and logs an average of 40,000 yards per week. Six workouts per week are coached practices. In the summer, he enjoys open water swimming in the Great Lakes, which are both salt- and shark-free.
Dean’s teammates ask him about competing, but he says he gets in enough racing during practice. He also claims to simply be following doctor’s orders by swimming. They call him an overachiever for getting in so many yards, but he likes doing the yardage and recording it in Go the Distance because it gives him structure and a framework to keep himself honest. He concentrates on technique, stroke count, pace, and endurance.
Dean adds that swimming is the fountain of youth and he recommends setting a reasonable goal for yardage. His yardage goal this year is 1,010 miles, 1 mile more than he swam last year.