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by Greta Van Meeteren

October 4, 2011

Swimming is a family affair

Sam Wathenis a member of the Grand Strand Masters Swimmers. His swimming career started about 10 years ago when both of his children were members of a local swim team. He watched their practices and thought, "If they can swim for 60 minutes and enjoy it, then I should be able to swim also."

Wathen started swimming and reached his goal of swimming a mile. He then stopped swimming until three years ago. He decided that he wanted to be in better shape. Since then, he has been a dedicated swimmer. Over the first two years, Wathen lost about fifteen pounds and he improved his overall quality of life. He was hooked.

Joining U.S. Masters Swimming and the “Go The Distance” program was a way to motivate himself to swim. What Wathen likes about GTD is getting the rewards for achieving the 50-mile intervals. His goal for this year is 250 miles. Wathen has several other motivations to swim: staying in shape, keeping his personal best times, and swimming longer distances. Meeting other swimmers has also inspired him to swim.  One of his teammates is the coach for a local high school swim team. "He has been great to talk with about technique and training routines," Wathen says.

Swimming 10 to 15 times per month on his own, Wathen’s swimming sessions range between 2,000 and 3,500 total yards. He uses many workouts within each session. He usually starts with a 500-yard freestyle warm up, followed by 500 yards of kicking and drills. In these drills, Wathen always wears fins because, "It is more fun." Wathen gets help with this technique and inspiration from Total Immersion, a Janet Evans book and an iPad app.

While swimming, Wathen keeps track of his times with a wristwatch and then records the times in an Excel spreadsheet. He keeps track of his personal best times and highlights the best times for the month. He has not yet competed in a meet but he hopes to do so within the next year. Wathen would also like to learn the butterfly stroke.

Wathen is a professor in the Wall College of Business at the Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, S.C. His family has lived there since 1993. Swimming is very convenient for him because the Conway Medical Center-Wellness and Fitness Center pool is less than one mile from his home.

One of his favorite swimming memories is a swim that turned into a family outing. The swim was a one-mile swim sponsored by the Coastal Carolina University swim club. His family decided to participate. On that Saturday morning, Wathen, his wife and son and daughter were the only swimmers to show up. They took turns swimming and, as the only swimmers to participate, they took home the first place ribbon and a coupon for a free dinner at a local restaurant.


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