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by Greta Van Meeteren

May 8, 2012

Back to swimming

Christy Sporidis lives in Potomac, Md., and is a stay-at-home mom of three. She coaches her daughter’s track and field team and helps out at the Curl-Burke Swim Club working with the younger children. Other than that, she runs around after her three kids and husband and tries to squeeze in a workout each day.

Sporidis started swimming when she was seven at her neighborhood pool, then later swam for Rockville Montgomery Swim Club year round until college. She went on to swim for Virginia Tech, mainly the 100 and 200 back. After college she started running to stay in shape and she signed up for a local triathlon for which she borrowed her sister's running shoes and bought a bike a few days before the race. She ended up second in her age group and has been doing triathlons ever since, 21 years and counting. She raced professionally for two years but due to family demands, now just races just for fun and tries to do at least one triathlon a year.

After some setbacks, including spinal fusion back surgery in December of 2011, she had limited most of her exercise to swimming. She decided to sign up for Go the Distance to motivate herself.

This year Sporidis has swum 105 miles. She generally swims three days per week, 5,000-5,500 yards per workout. Because she swims so much her doctor hasn't needed to prescribe physical therapy for her back. Her goal this year is 400 miles.

"I definitely think it helps to swim with a group and with a fun coach to keep you motivated," she says. Sporidis swims with "the best coach on earth," John Flanagan, in McLean, Va. "We call ourselves Flanagan's Shenanigans. We have a good mix of triathletes, folks who compete in Masters meets and those who just like to swim for exercise.

Since she can no longer run, she plans to do more open water swims. She would like to do the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim again someday. She did this swim twice in the early 1990s before wetsuits were allowed. "I have never done a Masters swim meet but would consider it. I think I'm too afraid to know how much slower I am now than in college! I love to train in the pool but I definitely prefer to compete in the open water. My favorite place to swim open water is the Aegean Sea in the Greek Isles. We try to go as much as we can as my husband, who is Greek, still has family there," Sporidis says.

Her most remarkable swim story? "My craziest swim story is when I was just out of college and signed up for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. It is a 4.4 mile swim across the Chesapeake Bay where we swim between the two bridges (the eastbound and westbound bridge) to the other side. This was the third time for me so I thought I was a pro. The race director didn’t gauge the tides properly that morning and about three-quarters of the competitors (including me) ended up so far outside of the bridges that we were swimming perpendicular to the them on a virtual swimming treadmill, only going slowly backward! No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get any closer to the bridges, only farther and farther away and soon would be just a fleck in the ocean. They sent a boat out picking everyone up to take them back to shore. When they got to me, they told me to get on the boat. I asked them if I would be disqualified if I got on. They just looked at me like I was crazy and screamed at me to get on! My how times have changed from my early 20s. Nowadays, I would have gotten on that boat so fast and probably would have been the first person waving it down once I realized the tide was taking me out to sea!"


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