Swimmer Spotlight – Chris Hiatt

Chris Hiatt, 75

Occupation:  ENT Physician (retired)

Chris Hiatt

Chris Hiatt

I started competitive swimming as a skinny 13-year-old, and while my coach was usually a kind person as I recall, she entered me in the 400 IM in my first event. My legs were rubber afterward. High school and college swimming were rather mediocre. At Oberlin College (Ohio) we worked out four days a week for 90 minutes with no interval training, no stroke work, no goggles and no swim suits. There must have been some sort of weird Greek Olympic or YMCA tradition because we only wore suits in competition (no racing dives in practice!) Without goggles I saw halos around lights for about an hour after practice due to chlorine irritation.

Before medical school (Chris went to Ohio State Medical School with ENT training in Milwaukee, WI) I went on a canoe trip with my brother to Minnesota and fell under the spell of conifers and clear water. Big trees and clear rivers, plus steelhead fishing, skiing, backpacking and the beach all within two hours eventually led Chris to the Willamette Valley & Eugene. I could practice Ears/Nose/Throat stuff and I could be on a river each week. Sometimes I am actually in the river snorkeling down the McKenzie in a wet suit watching trout.

Five years of running and two marathons led my knees to tell me it was time to start masters swimming at 40. Good coaches helped me get slow more slowly over the next 20 years and by 60 I was still within 2 seconds of my middling 1:07 college 100 back time. Jerry Andrus (Karen Andrus-Hughes’ brother) and recently Trevor Hoke at Eugene DAC have aided with stroke work. After thirty years of perseverance I was lucky enough to make All-American in backstroke.

Masters swimming needs to be fun to keep at it and I have been fortunate enough to have a workout group with good camaraderie four days a week. I do weight work twice a week and 15 minutes of abs three times a week. Stretching is a constant co-feature of reading the paper or watching TV. Nevertheless, I have strained my rotator cuff twice recently and need to listen to my body as my connective tissue ages. Overall the best thing about Masters is staying fit enough to still get outdoors and enjoy this beautiful state with my wife, two children and five grandchildren.

Chris has earned 36 USMS top ten times, a number which is sure to go up when the 2015 results are in! He also was #3 on the FINA top ten list, M 70-74, in the 200 backstroke. David Radcliff is his “hero of aging up” as David posted faster times at 75 than he swam at 70.

—submitted by Karen Andrus-Hughes

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