David Hathaway, 58
Director of Finance (retired)
House Remodeler (current)
Local Team: Oregon Reign Masters (ORM)
I started Masters swimming at age 45. One of my coworkers recommended that I drop in for a practice at David Douglas High School, which was coached by Dennis Baker. I’ve been on the Oregon Reign Masters team ever since.
I started competitive swimming at the age of 12. My age group team was Johnson Memorial YMCA located in Charlotte, NC.
I earned a partial swimming scholarship at Appalachian State University and swam there my freshman year. I attempted to swim my sophomore year but eventually the grind of applying heat to my shoulders before every practice and ice afterwards became too much of a burden. My identical twin brother Dan had already faced this crossroad when he was a junior in high school and he introduced me to other sporting opportunities beyond swimming. He had picked soccer and rock climbing.
After close to 25 years away from the pool, I got back into swimming shortly after I was divorced. I was concerned that my old shoulder ailments would flair up again, but the only way to know would be to give it a try. I definitely had some challenging practices early on, but I decided to stick around long enough to compete in a Masters meet. Fortunately for me the Multnomah Athletic Club was hosting a half day meet, which was perfect for my needs at the time. They used to host a short course meters meet in early December for many years. I recall meeting some very nice individuals at the meet. Even though I didn’t swim well that day, I was glad to be back in the competitive environment.
In looking back at Masters’ swims over the years, one event stands out in my mind. It was an open water 10k event in Sitka, Alaska. Water temperatures ranged from 52 to 58 degrees in a very calm bay. I wore a full wetsuit and cap that helped, but definitely did not keep me warm. The meet organizer is a competitor friend of mine from Sisters who had invited me to swim this event a few times, but for one reason or another it hadn’t worked out in the past. In 2017, the competition date fell on my mom’s birthday. She had passed away several years before, so it seemed like a nice way to remember her. As it turned out, I would end up swimming the race in honor of two passed relatives. Around 1:00 am on Sunday morning I received a call from my older brother letting me know that my identical twin brother, Dan, who was only 56-1/2 years old and in pretty good shape physically, had passed away a few hours before, due to heart failure. After being in shock for quite a while, I booked a flight back to Portland but the earliest flight available out of Sitka did not depart until midafternoon on Sunday. I tried to sleep, but that didn’t go too well. I mostly thought about the huge void I now had in my life. Had Dan not passed away the night before, I would have been very apprehensive about swimming a 10k in such frigid waters. However, I was still in shock and fairly zombie-like. I thought, what do I have to lose but a little time?
Warm ups for the event started at 7:30am and the 10k would launch at 8am. The course itself was three laps around a 3.3k loop in the Sitka bay. The first lap seemed to take forever. By the time I started the 2nd lap the swim was more tolerable. I had identified a main race hurdle, which was a river that fed into the bay from nearby mountains. On lap three my lack of sleep and the enormity of what had happened in the past 12 hours started to set in, but I simply slogged on. Kris Calvin did a great job hosting this event which is a fund raiser for the local age group swim team.
I lost my twin brother Dan to heart failure, and since that time I have spent a fair amount of time researching and consulting with health professionals to try to understand what happened, and to determine what I can do to lead a heart healthy lifestyle. If any other Masters swimmers face these challenges, I would be happy to connect with them and share some of my findings.
In addition to swimming, I enjoy road cycling, hiking and traveling. I have two sons, one of whom is finishing up an extended Navy enlistment in Japan. My youngest son is in the process of applying to graduate schools in Germany.
I have enjoyed all my years in Masters swimming. I love the competition, the daily practices and the swimmers I’ve met at both local and regional meets. Body willing, I plan to participate in this sport for many more years and even decades to come.