Swimmer Spotlight: Deidra Cherzan


Deidra Cherzan
Work: Attorney/CPA
Age: 59
Workout Group: Central Oregon Masters Aquatics (COMA)

Deidra CherzanI love water.  Ice blue water, flat turquois water, green water, pewter gray ocean water, any color water.  When I am not swimming, I am in the bathtub or a hot tub.  When I visit other states or other countries, I search for a body of water in which to swim.  The most delicious body of water I have experienced was a river near Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.  It was 98 degrees outside, the windows were rolled down on our Subaru and my husband, dog and I were driving through gravel beside a river.  I stopped the car and ran into the cool, flowing river.  The river was shallow which caused me to swim properly – high elbow.  As I swam I watched the fish and the blue, gray and pink river stones below me.

Wherever I go I find water…the Mediterranean sea; a swimming pool in Cardiff, Wales; the ocean in New Zealand; a swimming pool in Queenstown.  I also find people — welcoming Masters groups in Boise, Chico, Wellington, Portland, Victoria.

I grew up in Newport, Oregon, where my first swimming experiences were in a neighbor’s foundation after a hard rain, and the Newport Natatorium.  My mother learned to swim from her father who was a Red Cross director in Portland and lived on Lake Oswego before it was anything more than a lake.  My mother taught me to swim and was the first coach of the Newport, Oregon, swim team.  She recruited me at 9 and my brother at 11.  My brother lost interest while I concentrated on springboard diving and became a far better diver than swimmer.  My daughter was also a swimmer.

I took a break from swimming for nearly 30 years.  In 2003 I joined Central Oregon Masters.  I compete occasionally; however, for me, swimming is about relationship with people and water.  Six years ago I wanted more mileage and more difficult, diverse workouts so I have been swimming with specific individuals rather than COMA.  Jamie Proffitt is the unofficial “ring leader” of an unofficial group of swimmers who concentrate on more mileage and difficult workouts.  I swim with him two days a week.  Jen Baran is a swimmer who moved up from the Stanford Swim Club and I have been swimming with her for nearly two years.  Kelsey Holmberg Adams has also been another steady swim partner for several years.

I find that I have unintentionally served as a metronome, or Greenwich meantime, for women starting or adding to their families.  My speed does not change; however, Jen, Kelsey and Amy Imwalle-Holcomb all swam during their pregnancies.  Although all are appreciably faster than me, during their seventh month of pregnancy they began to slow slightly.  In Kelsey and Jen’s ninth months, I occasionally swam ahead of them; Amy Holcomb, however, had a turbo bump and only swam faster.  During Jen’s ninth and tenth months she was still swimming butterfly sets!  And I was still behind her!  A month after the birth of their various children, the world was righted again, my head shrunk back to it’s original size and I continue to struggle to maintain a reasonable interval behind them.

I swim in the same pool with several beautiful swimmers and it is a joy to watch and try to emulate their strokes.  Constructive comments from coaches are helpful for stroke improvement; absent that, emulating good form is a fine second best.  Hardy Lussier, Jamie Proffitt, Tom Landis, Amy Ward and Jen Baran serve as model swimmers.

I came to Masters swimming 13 years ago.  I did not swim or dive after I graduated from high school.  Rather, I graduated from Oregon State University after four years of learning.  I loved math and languages but didn’t like chemistry.  I HATED Fortran (early computing language where after spending a day programming something I would receive a two foot pile of  punch cards back with the mission of trying to locate a misplaced comma.)  I served 4 years of active duty in the Air Force, was promoted to Captain and served another 8 years in the weekend reserves in Combat Communications, Intelligence, and Communications and Electronics.  At the same time I became a Certified Public Accountant by attending night school while I worked full time in several consultancy and project management positions with Household International, Fairchild Semi-Conductor and Arthur Young.  At the age of 34 I took a hiatus from a full time job and attended law school at the University of Washington.  Since 1993 I have worked full time as an attorney and CPA.

I swim because I love water.  I participate in Masters because I enjoy my swimming mates and I enjoy meeting new people with a common interest when I travel.  I also participate in Masters because I have learned that staying fit leads to a better quality of life.  My father is 95 and my mother is 91.  My father still chops wood, works out on Nordic Track, hauls landscape rock, gardens and bicycles in their neighborhood.  My mother still bicycles, works out on Nordic Track and also gardens.  She skied until she was 88 when she did not want to risk the damage from a ski accident.  My mother fell off a ladder that slipped from roof height when she was 87; she did not break any bones.  At 88 she had open- heart surgery with three heart valves replaced.  Less than a year later she was bicycling and working out again.  Both of my parents live together, in their own home on several acres.

I have been told I have good genes.  We do not; we have no better genes than most people.  Our close relatives are obese and most of them died while in their 70s.  The difference is that we have stayed fit.  While we may not live longer, we can enjoy our life while we are alive.  That is also why I swim.

I have been married, now, for 15 years, to my nemesis, my evil half, whom I married on the shortest, darkest day of the year and whose time I share with my lovely dog, Ubu.  James supports my swimming probably because I tolerate his driving and because I have made room for the 626 hats he owns which are hung on the walls and sit in piles everywhere.  We are, at least, never without a hat.

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