Name: Arthur Noxon
Occupation: Acoustical Engineer as pertains to music (semi-retired)
Local Team: OREGON (Unattached in Eugene)
It all started one day in the summer of 2016. I got a call from my brother, Ward, a national record holder back in his high school swimming days. He had become a Masters Swimmer and invited me to come and hang out with him at a swim meet near where I lived.
My two younger brothers and I grew up in Fresno, Calif, in a big pool which Dad had put in the side yard of our house. We also joined the YMCA in town, and worked through the swimming program from Minnow through Dolphin and Life Saving. We also did Gymnastics. I was the oldest boy. Starting back in 1958, I joined the local Roosevelt High School swim team. My brothers followed, a year apart, each joining the team.
One day part way through the first season, Coach Gene Stephens pulled me aside and told me that we are going to have to make a change. I’m not doing that well in crawl and he had enough freestylers anyway. I’m not long enough for breaststroke, and my backstroke is a “no go.” But the good news is that I’m strong in the chest, so, I’ll be swimming butterfly.
I trained and raced nothing but butterfly for three years. We trained in the mornings before school and again after school in an outdoor pool, rain or shine. Coach was great but ruthless, just the best. I graduated from high school in 1961, and in the fall checked out the Fresno State College swim team. I quickly realized that only the best swimmers in the valley were signing up, and I just could not compete with those guys. I let it go, and soon enough the rest of life took over: career, marriage, big family, all the kids grew up leaving our big house kind of empty except for me, Leslie my wife, and Luka our big golden retriever.
My brother Ward and his old high school racing buddies had joined Masters Swim and re-formed their old relay team. The swim meet would be in August at the Mount Hood Community College Aquatic Center in Gresham, not far from Eugene where we live. In the morning we packed up and drove over to find the 2016 LCM National Championship hosted by Oregon Masters. I had no expectations besides brotherly support. But, when I got to the swim meet something unexpected happened.
Honestly, all the smells, visions, sounds and the pace of events hit me like a brick, reviving my old swimming blood spirit. My brother said his team could use a butterflier, why couldn’t I train and join them at the next meet. He assured me that I didn’t have to be fast but I would have to at least finish the race. I said “Sure, thanks,” and I promised him I’d work at it.
I joined a local gym which has a pool. Initially did a lot of rope pulls trying to build up those butterfly muscles. Finally, it was time to hit the water. I got in, pushed off, took one fly stroke and two kicks. Great, my muscle memory was working. Then it was time for the second stroke and I sank. I just couldn’t get my arms to move. My first workout lasted one stroke! That was humbling. But still, I couldn’t let the team down, so I went back every day and worked as best I could, doing a little bit more each day. I ended up doing 20 laps every workout, with plenty of rest stops, of course. The pool was 25 yards long with narrow lanes. Scraping knuckles on one side and floats on the other kept me swimming a straight line!
April 2017 Riverside, CA, was my first swim meet. My brother and his team were there in force so I wasn’t needed in the relay. I did swim the 50 fly and finished. A few months later I went to a big meet, August 2017, in Minneapolis. We had some family there. It was 50m long course. I didn’t realize what that meant until I stood at the starting end of the pool and tried to see the finish line.
I continued to enter and finish every race I could get to; I’m up to 16 races. I disgraced myself only two times: one was for a rolling start and the other was a DQ in August, 2019, at the Gil Young meet in Gresham for flipping over towards the end and taking 3 back fly strokes to get to the finish line! It was just two weeks since brother Ward had passed away and I didn’t have my heart in that race.
Shortly after that Covid came, and later it finally went. Now, I’m back at it again, working out at least four times a week, outdoor pool, no team, no coach, just me and that blue water. Something about it….. just makes my day, every day. And, that’s my story.
Quote from Alice Zabudsky:
“I admire those who have the courage to make butterfly their stroke!”
Art. What a marvelous story and what a determined man. The Butterfly is the most hypnotic stroke. And a near misery to perfect. If I were still teaching, I would read your letter to my classes. The determination is exactly what these kids need to hear you don’t give up you might take one stroke and sink did the end your persistence is an aspect of your character that I love. You are my favorite brother-in-law. Your persistence is an aspected of your character I so respect.
Arthur, sorry not getting back to you earlier . Wow ! What a life you’ve had and are still having ! I am impressed ! I enjoyed the article about your swimming program. Not too many can come close❗️Enjoy every day … sounds like you are 🤗👍‼️Keep in touch
Well Art, I had no clue! Thats amazing.