I’m used to submitting press releases rather than being the subject of one!  After writing press releases for several Griffin-area non-profits over the past eight years and submitting them to Griffin Daily News, I’ve gotten quite used to contacting the editors of our local newspaper.  The tables were turned, though, and I received a request from the assistant editor for a photo of me to accompany a press release somebody else was submitting about me!

As it turns out Georgia Games staff member, August Lynch, submitted the following release:





When Vantage Travel needed to change our European river cruise departure date, I had pretty much written off the idea of competing in the Georgia State Games Open Water Meet.  It was scheduled for the morning after our evening return, and I knew I would be leaving my suit at home and taking three weeks off from the pool.

It made me a bit sad, because even though it is not a pool meet, it’s my favorite local swim event of the year.  It’s also the third event of the Georgia Grand Prix Series, and I am leading the series in my age group.  After winning it in 2012, 2013, and 2014; I wanted to win it back after having lost in 2015 due to sitting out a couple of the events after having hip surgery and a set-back.

I didn’t discuss competing at the open water meet with Bruce, because I just knew he would NOT want to get up early the morning after returning from Europe.  Besides, I was having a problem with my shoulder that required a short course of physical therapy before we went to Europe.  On top of that, I developed an acute case of calcific tendinitis in my other hip while in Vienna, requiring an injection of a short and long-term anesthetic.  (Thankfully, it worked like a charm!)

Late in the trip, I finally casually mentioned the upcoming meet to Bruce, and he said, “Well, are you going to compete in it this year?  I think you should!”  Really?  I couldn’t believe my ears!  We agreed to see how my hip was doing after our return and whether we would be up for peeling ourselves out of bed for the 1-1/2 drive to Lake Acworth.

Thank goodness traveling west is easier on the body than heading east.  Neither of us have jetlag when we travel west, so we were in luck.  We crashed by 9:00 PM last night (3:00 AM our body time), got a good night sleep, and woke up refreshed this morning.  We took one look at each other and said, “Let’s go!”

I was so excited, I felt like a retriever puppy waiting to get released from my leash, so I could go chase thrown sticks in the water!  We piled our gear into “AQUADOG” and hit the road.

Arriving just in time for the 3K start, my heart skipped a beat as I saw them take off.  The 3K is my favorite open water race, but I knew I shouldn’t push it, so I settled on racing the 1K instead.

After three weeks out of the water (even longer than after my hip surgery), it felt SO good to be back in!  The rest did my body good, though, and all four cylinders were working great.  I won gold (although there was only one other gal in my age group), my time better than last year, and it was a lot of fun.  My win also mathematically eliminated my competition in the Georgia Grand Prix Series!

Thanks, Bruce, for your love, support, and encouragement!  I love you!!




Last year, Loukia and I were side-by-side and really pushed each other during the last half of our 1K race.  I won, but she beat me this year!  (Thankfully, she is in a younger age group, so I was able to still win gold.)

Stay tuned for blog posts about Europe.  After I edit the TONS of photos I shot, I will start posting the blog posts I wrote off-line and include my favorite shots.

Note about race:  Looking over the official results, I beat 13 of the 22 women younger than me, and 12 of the 23 men younger than me.  WooHOO!


When I joined U.S. Masters Swimming in 2010, I never dreamed I would compete in open water swimming.  I was a breaststroker, after all, and a sprinter at that.

In July, 2012 that all changed.  To win the Georgia Championship Series, I needed to compete in the Georgia Games Open Water Meet to rack up enough points to remain in the lead.  The series is comprised of four events (Short Course Yards, Long Course Meters, Open Water, and Short Course Meters), and I was leading my age group after the first two meets.

I will never forget showing up to Lake Acworth and wondering what I had gotten myself into.  There were three races (5K, 3K, and 1K), and I had signed up for the 3K and 1K in hopes of winning some points.  Was I NUTS?

As it turned out, I won a silver medal in the 3K and a gold medal in the 1K.  I was overjoyed!  More importantly, it was the most fun I had ever had at a swimming event.  Ever.  I was hooked.

In 2013, I couldn’t wait until July rolled around, so I could compete at the Georgia Games once again.  This time, I swam faster; however, the competition was tougher, and I went home with two bronze medals.  It didn’t matter, because I had a blast!

Last year, it was during the 3K race that my hip pain that was previously only an issue on land became problematic in the water.  For the first time, it affected my swimming, and I was forced to drag my right leg along for the ride.  Still, I swam well, enjoyed the competition, and took home two silver medals.

This year, I wasn’t going to race at all.  Between having hip surgery in December and not knowing for sure whether my hip could tolerate 4K’s of racing, I was going to give it a miss.  Add the ridiculously hot weather we’ve been having to the mix, and the fact that I didn’t get enough pool time logged during our 47-day road trip, it was a no-go for me.  Or, maybe not.

I decided to swim a trial 3K race in the pool to see if perhaps I could handle the yardage.  If I could swim pain-free and not struggle, I thought I would give the Georgia Games a try after all.

Surprisingly, I finished in 1:05, ten minutes slower than when I had swum the same time trial in 2014.  Given the circumstances, I was happy to finish at all!

In open water, though, there are factors that make swimming the same distance much more difficult.  There are no walls to push off of after each 25 yards of swimming, there is no black line to follow or lane lines to separate the swimmers, and the water is as clear as mud.  Literally.  Add the sun and warmer water to the mix and the need to “sight” the buoys on a frequent basis, and it is a much greater challenge.  Oh, I also forgot the fact that getting kicked in the head or smacked by an arm doesn’t happen in pool competition, but it does in an open water race, especially at the start.  I know, because it has happened to me.

Still, I had too much fun the first three times at Lake Acworth to sit this one out.

I drove to the lake this morning with the idea I would race the 3K and opt out of the 1K if I felt bad from the heat and hot water.  If my hip started hurting, I would quit.

The water was even hotter than I thought it would be, and I was surprised the meet wasn’t cancelled.  USMS’ rules state a limit of 86 degrees, and FINA (the international governing body for swimming) sets a limit of 87 degrees.  Surely, the water temperature hit those limits.


That’s me (side view) on the right (front) without the cap getting ready to start the 3K.

I chucked my swim cap, hit the water, and swam cautiously until I knew my body could handle the heat.  Surprisingly, I was able to increase my speed throughout the 3K race rather than slow down or quit.  After turning at the last buoy for the last 1K to the finish, I kicked it up to full throttle and aimed for the finish.


It wasn’t until after my 1K race that I learned how I had finished in the 3K.  The two races had only a short break in between, and the medals were announced while I was racing.  No matter. I was just ECSTATIC that I finished the 3K strong and felt good enough to return to the water for the 1K.  Besides, it was enormously gratifying to watch all of the swimmers who finished AFTER me, especially many of the young studs and studettes who appeared to be in their 20’s and 30’s.  Talking about a great sense of satisfaction!

The 1K was a diamond-shaped course, and I noticed after rounding the first buoy that I had company by my side.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake this blue-capped gal who was matching me stroke-for-stroke.  I was hoping she would swim off-course, but her sighting was good, and we both swam straight.

As we approached the last third of the race, I decided it was time to turn up the heat (as if I wasn’t hot enough already!), test out my hip, and kick with all I had left in the tank.

The effort paid off; I beat her to the finish by over a minute.


When we met up onshore, we introduced ourselves, gave each other a big hug, and thanked each other for the great competition.  We each had swum the 3K as well, so we looked up our times on the results sheet to see if we had finished close in that race as well.  As it turned out, she beat me by less than two minutes!

Thankfully, Loukia is only 34 years old, and I’m 53, so we didn’t have to give up medals to each other.  That was a good thing, because just before we posed for this photo, Bruce put my 3K medal around my neck.  It wasn’t until afterwards that I looked down to see which one it was.  I just assumed it was bronze, and I was just so happy to win ANY medal!


When I finally looked down at it, I had to pick it up and turn it back and forth before I was convinced it was actually GOLD.  For the first time in four years, I won gold in the 3K.  (There were only four in my age group, but still…)

The gold medal winner in the 1K hadn’t swum the 3K, so she was fresh for her race and beat me for the gold.  During the 1K medal ceremony, another name was called for the bronze, so I thought my chance for a medal was zilch.  When the name was called for the silver, though, it was mine.  YES!  Once again, I won a gold and silver; however, this time they were switched, and the gold was for the longer race.

The sense of satisfaction I feel today is the greatest I have felt since becoming a USMS competitive swimmer.  What a fabulous day!


U.S. Masters Swimming medal winners from Georgia Masters

Georgia Games Open Water Meet: FUN!

Last year, I enjoyed racing the 3K and 1K in the Georgia Games Open Water meet so much that I signed up again this year. It is not part of the Georgia Championship Series this year, however, the Swim 4 Our Lives open water meet, in September, is part of the series. So, this was a great opportunity to get in some open water racing experience.

What a great day at Lake Acworth! The conditions were perfect; cloudy skies and a comfortable water temperature, thanks to all the rain Georgia has had lately. It really cooled the water down nicely.

This year, there was a short break between the 3K and 1K, so it wasn’t quite as crazy as last year, when I crossed the finish line and ran right back out to join the 1K group.

No gold or silver for me this year, but I did beat out three others in my age group to win bronze in the 3K, and I beat four others to win bronze in the 1K.

Most of all, I just really enjoyed racing in the lake today!


3K Finish


1K Finish


1K Finish


My 3K Bronze Medal


My Georgia Masters teammate, Eleanor “Ellie” Jones beat out another teammate to win gold in her first open water race.  I was so proud of her today!


No Lane Lines, No Black Line, No Walls: Georgia Games Open Water Swim

Today, I went back to my roots in swimming; open water.  As a kid, I used to swim the bay and ocean of Long Beach Alamitos Bay Peninsula, long before I made my way into a swimming pool.  The first time I had been in a pool with lane lines and a black line on the bottom was when I joined the swim team at Lakewood High School.  Pool swimming was all new to me then, but all I have known ever since- until I competed in Georgia Games Open Water Swim, today.

I decided to register for today’s event, because it was what I needed to compete in, to clinch the Georgia Swim Championships in my age group.  After winning the high points award at the short course meet, at Georgia Tech, back in April, I was told by my team’s relay coordinator that I was in the lead for the championship trophy in my age group.  And, to win it, I would need to earn the most points in my age group in three out of four designated swim meets:  The short course yards meet at Georgia Tech, the Long course meters meet in Athens, today’s open water swim, and the short course meters meet.  Since I won high points in the first of the series, I was determined to win high points, again, at the long course meet, in Athens.  And, I did.  So, I signed up for the open water swim, just to make sure I got three of the four events in the bag, in case I miss the St. Nick’s meet, at Georgia Tech, in December.  (You never know if a bug is going to strike the immune system that time of year…)

Today’s event included a 5k, 3k, and 1k swim at beautiful Lake Acworth (, north of Atlanta.  I decided to challenge myself and sign up for both the 3k and 1k swim; a total of about 4,300 yards.  A few swimmers did all three swims, but I figured I needed to leave that challenge for next time- maybe.

The expected conditions concerned me way more than the distance of the swims; I knew the 3k and 1k would present no problem at all.  But, I have Meniere’s, an inner ear disorder, and I just didn’t know how I would do swimming in a lake with no visibility- and no black line to follow!  I didn’t have this condition as a kid, so it was a new challenge for me as an adult swimmer.  Would I get dizzy?  Would I lose my sense of direction?  Would I have to sight constantly to keep my eye on the three buoys I would have to turn around on the course?

The other concern was the heat and water temperature; both expected to top 90 degrees.  Fortunately, we had cloud cover for the first 2k of my 3k swim, and, at 85 degrees, the lake water was the coolest it had ever been for the Georgia Games.  (You call 85 degrees cool?  Yikes!).  Competition pools are set at 78-81 degrees, so 85 degrees was warm!  But, as it turned out, swimming without a cap was just what I needed to stay cool (enough) to swim hard.

On paper, the odds were against me having a successful day, or, for that matter, even having an enjoyable day.  But, I had my heart set on it and I was going to give it my best!  Besides, my buddy, Mark (another open water newbie), decided to swim it, as well, so he could clinch the Georgia Championships in his age group.  Mark always calls me “Champ!”, so I couldn’t let him down!

Several of my other teammates participated, too, and I was happy to see them on the beach.  Mike, for one, was on one of my relay teams at Nationals, in Greensboro.  As an experienced open water swimmer, Mike had been very helpful and supportive in getting me prepared on what to expect today.  I was so happy to see him after his 5k swim!  And, his encouragement fired me up.


Sunscreen on, Blistex on my lips, Vaseline around my eyes, goggles firmly in place; I was ready to swim.  And, we were off!

01-3K Start.jpgMy main objective in my first ever open water race was to stay on the outside of the pack (to keep from getting kicked and clawed) and keep from getting dizzy and seasick from my Meniere’s.  The first couple hundred yards or so were tough; I was disoriented and starting to feel nauseous from the dizziness.  Panic started to rear its ugly head, but I took a good long look at the buoy, put my head down, talked myself into a relaxed state of mind, and settled on a good, steady pace, frequently sighting the first buoy to stay on course.  After a short time, I was good to go for the remainder of the swim.

 The swim felt great and I felt strong.  Rounding the final buoy, I decided to pick up my pace, knowing I was almost home- at least for the first of my two swims.  My goal was to reach the finish line before the start of the 1k, so I could do that swim, as well.  The two races were set to go off one hour apart; no problem if the 3k had been a pool swim.  But, with being a newbie at sighting and having no walls to push off of every 25 yards, I knew not to expect too much.  But, as I reached the shore and stood up to run to the finish line, I saw a large group of green-capped swimmers facing the water, ready to race the 1k.  The 5k group was orange-capped (except for me, Mark, and a few others who opted to go sans cap), so I knew I had made it in time.



1:1:24.14 was my final time; less than two minutes past the 1k start time.  And, lucky for me, they held back the 1k start for a few more minutes; just enough time to get a high-five from Bruce, grab a gulp of Powerade, and join the pack for the next race.

Mark had come in three minutes ahead of me, so we headed out for the 1k together; the last time I saw him until we both rounded the buoy together and I looked up and said, “Hi Mark!”  After that, I put my head down and swam hard for the beach.  Little did I know until I saw the photos Bruce had shot, Mark was right behind me at the finish line. He had tried to catch me (according to Bruce), but ran out of real estate.



As it turned out, I ended up beating three other gals in my age group for the silver medal in the 3k.  In the 1k, there were only two of us in our age group and I ended up beating my competitor by 11 minutes to win the gold.



Another day, another challenge!  And, another day of pure joy.