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by Linda Shoenberger

February 6, 2012

Mixing open water swimming and family

Dave Brancamp is a 50-year-old swimmer living in Reno, Nevada with his wife Tamie and son Chris. After he finished college at Fresno State University he became interested in triathlons. Thus began his journey into the world of fitness swimming.

At first he concentrated on the run and bike part of the triathlon. He could swim moderately well so he didn’t put much emphasis on time in the water. Just once or twice a week of practice seemed ok to him. But when he moved to Reno at age 34, he found a group of fitness swimmers where he simply fit in. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

His draw to the pool became gradually more enticing until he found himself swimming five to six days a week and really enjoying it. Triathlons became a thing of the past as he began to discover that the longer he swam, the more he enjoyed it.

I spent some time with Dave and his wife and son at a USMS open water race in Bend, Ore. a few years back. While Dave and I warmed up and sped off for our races, Chris spent time playing in the sand and dipping his toes in the water. Tami was nicely set up with a chair, umbrella and a book. After we finished racing, Chris enjoyed a children’s fun swim.

Dave chose open water racing because it gave him a chance to spend time on trips with his family. Since he had begun to prefer longer distances, it made sense to him to take the family along for the morning at the beach while Dad did his thing. Today they can be found enjoying the lakes and oceans where Dave competes in many USMS events.

His attraction to open water swimming has made him many new friends. Besides the swimmers at Reno’s Sierra Nevada Masters where Coach Steve Lintz designates one or two lanes for long distance swimmers, Dave has begun to meet many new and interesting people out on the many beaches where he races.

With family in tow most of the time, Dave enjoys seeing old friends and hanging out with new friends at open water events. Tami and Chris have found friends out there too so it’s never intimidating or boring for them to tag along. It beats pool racing in Dave’s mind because his family gets to enjoy themselves at the beach for a few hours too.

Although he misses the relays he used to swim in pool competition Dave feels that open water racing is more conducive to his family’s enjoyment. “I like the camaraderie of the sport,” he says. “It’s a chance to be with friends and family.”

This year Dave teamed up with open water swimmers Lisa Hazen and Suzanne-Heim-Bowen for a Pacific Masters Swimming workshop on preparing for a 10-k swim. The workshop sold out quickly and swimmers were eager for tips.

Dave realizes that with each year of daily swimming and family outings to open water swims, he is always looking for a longer challenge. He is just beginning to toy with the idea of possibly swimming the English Channel. If he does I’m sure Tami and Chris will be riding along in the boat. We’ll have to wait and see where his fitness swimming takes him in the future.


  • Human Interest


  • Triathlon
  • Open Water
  • New Swimmers
  • Fitness
  • Biography