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by Jim Lilley

October 18, 2002

Trains to race and to enjoy swimming

Jim Lilley writes: "After finishing my college career at Tufts University in Boston with a Division III National Title in 100 fly, I felt let down that my swimming career might be over. Don Megerle, the coach at Tufts, encouraged me to continue. Without being a part of his team and under his guidance, I felt a little lost. That was 1982.

I first found out about Masters swimming at a meet in Boston back in 1985. Soon after that, I moved to Denver to start my new job as a Flight Attendant for United Air Lines. Searching for a place to swim, I ended up at an indoor 25-meter pool in Aurora, outside of Denver. It was at this pool where I met the two individuals responsible for my involvement in USMS. They are Rich Abrahams and Bill Abbott. I soon found myself training with them faithfully and learning to train specifically to race. My first nationals were at Stanford in 1987. Richalie Cranmer, (may she rest in peace) pointed me out to Stu Marvin and said, "he is your competition." I must say she was right.

During my stay in Colorado, I also learned a great deal of sprinting technique from Tom Whatley who joined Rich, Bill and me. My whole attitude toward swimming changed as I became friends with more RMM swimmers. Ric Cooley and Chuck Wolfe made sure it was fun and Kevin "Poleman" Polansky always kept us honest when we worked out together. Cathy Bujorian, Ellen Atkinson and Judy Reed have always been some of the best from RMM and I always appreciate swimming with them. Holden Bank and I seem to have some great swims whenever we race the 100 IM. There are so many other RMM swimmers that I haven't mentioned and it is because of them and the ones above that I still swim for RMM.

My best lifetime swims were in 1990 at nationals in Los Angeles. Stu Marvin and I raced three out of six races and unfortunately for me, he won all of them by less than a second combined. These races were the 50, 100 and 200 free. Who says you can't be faster than college?

I moved to Hawaii in late 1990 and had a wonderful opportunity to train with the incomparable Rowdy Gaines. He is a superb athlete with incredible class. At one point, Rowdy became ill with Guillian-Barré syndrome. I watched him battle the nerve disorder and go from almost completely paralyzed to becoming once again world champion. I am thankful that I was able to train and become friends with Rowdy.

I left Hawaii for Florida in 1992 where I live now. I swim at the International Swimming Hall of Fame complex with some truly exceptional individuals. Stu Marvin runs the complex and drops in our practice every once in a while. If you would like to learn freestyle technique, watch him swim. I also swim with Cav Cavanaugh and Debbie Cavanaugh, Joel Burns, Karl Kolb and Dwight Kennedy (soon to be a USMS swimmer). They are dedicated swimmers and share the love I have for racing. We all train to race and enjoy it completely and totally. Masters swimming for me is not only about racing, it is about these friends I have made and kept in touch with. Most of us Masters love swimming and have allowed it to become a positive part of our lives. I cannot imagine a day when I won't swim anymore. Swim Long and Prosper!"

Jim Lilley is married to Claudete and they have a son Alex who is two and a half years old and starting to swim. They live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and he swims for Rocky Mountain Masters.