by Dan Jones
for the Medford Mail Tribune—used with permission
The pool is a special place for Medford swimmers Aaron Ghiglieri and Mark Hageman.
The former NCAA Division I athletes set state records at the Oregon Masters Swimming Championships in May, in Beaverton. The men were two of about 250 competitors at the event, which took place at Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center.
The Masters meet was Ghiglieri’s first, and he made it count, with three state records for men ages 25-29. The 25-year-old recorded a time of 21.28 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle, 26.74 seconds in the 50-yard breaststroke, and 23.09 seconds in the 50 butterfly.
Curtis Taylor, who grew up in Ashland, owned the previous 50-yard freestyle record (21.52 in 2000). Ghiglieri topped Greg Latta’s 50-yard breaststroke mark (27.38 set in 1999) and Rick Abbott’s 50-yard butterfly mark (23.36, achieved in 1983).
The 56-year-old Hageman, who is a dentist in Medford, began swimming Masters in 2016. He eclipsed the record for men ages 55-59 in the 400 individual medley (4:52.10), besting Stephen Kevan’s 2010 record of 4:52.39.
Ghiglieri’s high school career at Cascade Christian included state title wins in the 100-yard butterfly his junior season, and state championships in the same event and in the 200 individual medley his senior year. He was also a standout with the Superior Stingrays, a local club.
Ghiglieri swam at the University of Michigan from 2012-2016. The team won a National title his freshman season in 2013.
“It was a lot of work,” says Ghiglieri, who graduated with a degree in anthropology. “A lot of time.Especially with school and academics and the expectations. I didn’t sleep a whole lot.”
Ghiglieri says he had to knock off some rust during the competition, but found success using the skills he developed in college.
“I learned how to get some more momentum going off the wall in college,” says Ghiglieri, who is now pursuing a Masters degree in biotechnology through Johns Hopkins’ online program. “That is a key for breaststroke in a short race.”
Gym work and diet also prepared Ghiglieri. He says he rotates upper and lower body, and core workouts on land, and abides by an intermittent fasting diet lifestyle, adding that it seems to give him better energy.
The whole Masters meet experience was awesome, he said.
“Now, as opposed to the past, it is way different,” says Ghiglieri, who was encouraged by Miller to compete for the first time in three years. “At Michigan, you’re doing it to score points, so I felt responsible to my team and coaches. This was more for fun.”
Hageman’s record was on the first day of the event, and it drained him.
“That was the only good swim I had because I was toast after that,” recalls Hageman, who grew up in Ohio and swam at Ohio State University. “The 400 IM is a grueling event. I knew as soon as I finished, that I was done. At my age it takes about a week to recover from that.”
Hageman secured the record despite losing several seconds to a rocky start. He hadn’t swam the 400 IM competitively in over 30 years.
“The rest of the story is that I told myself, ‘It is a long race, and we will see what happens,’ ” he says. “I was going for the record. I thought I could probably make it (the time) up.”
Miller was confident in Hageman. “I knew he was primed and ready to go,” Miller says.
Swimming in meets helps Hageman stay active and motivated.
“Mostly it is just about training and exercising,” he says. “A group of us train together in the morning. …Exercise is a lot like flossing. You should do it every day.”
“It’s not about records or swim meets,” he says, “it’s really about getting up every morning and moving.”