Swimmer Spotlight – James Adams

James Adams
Age: 41
Occupation: Industrial Maintenance Mechanic
Local Team: SOMA

James Adams with Olympian Matt Grevers, who also swam at USMS Spring Nationals

James Adams with Olympian Matt Grevers, who also swam at USMS Spring Nationals

As with many children, my parents placed me in swim lessons at the age of 5.  My mom wanted to be sure I would be safe around water and be able to attend backyard pool parties without fearing for my life.  I progressed rapidly through swim lessons, except for learning a legal breaststroke kick.  After numerous repeat classes, with no legal luck in breaststroke, I could outswim the kids in the upper levels, so they advanced me anyway.  Eventually I figured it out!  The aquatics director said the local swim team was holding tryouts and told my mom that it would be good for me to tryout.  Little did she know what she was getting herself into!!

I joined the Barracudas in Wenatchee, WA at age 7, and quickly developed a love for the sport.  Our coach had us compete in every swim event available, regardless of best strokes/worst strokes, and trained us the same way.  Swimming gave me the opportunity to travel around the western United States, as I was able to qualify for Regional, Zone and Junior National Championship meets throughout my early career.  I was also part of two Washington High School State Championship teams in 1994 & 1995.

My swimming career brought me to Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, where I quickly got started on a successful college career, earning four NAIA National Championships in the 500 Free and 1650 Free (two in each event).  I mostly competed in Butterfly, Individual Medley and Freestyle events, where I at one point held seven college team records, three of which are still standing today (500, 1000, 1650 Free).

After college I swam and coached with the Canby Swim Club for about 4 years.  Working job to job, and finding something that would work with a swim team schedule was difficult, and I eventually moved back “home” with my daughter to Wenatchee, WA, following a divorce.  After getting back on my feet financially, I met my wife Sandra who I have been with for 15 years.  We have 3 children, Amelia, Benjamin, and Christina.  Life took over at this point:  work, kids, couch, bed, repeat.  I ended up slowly gaining weight, and having high blood pressure issues, which caused me to focus on finding a way to get healthy and away from the medications.

I began swimming again at age 32, finding that it’s not as easy to swim as I once could.  I joined USMS and began attending more and more competitions in Washington and Oregon.  I entered so many meets, my wife would ask: “another meet?”  Training has been primarily a solo adventure for me over the years, relying on experience to design workouts, or meeting up with other lap swimmers at the local Y pool for unofficial workouts.  As the years went by, pounds began coming back off, and my pant sizes got back to my “normal” again.  I was happy to be getting back into the sport I had loved throughout my childhood.

I love the longer races! 200 Fly, 400 IM, 500/1650 are my “go to” events, but I still mix in other events.  That’s the best part of Masters swimming, you decide what you do!  I’m very competitive in whatever I do and have been coaching my daughter’s soccer team for the past three years, both fall and spring.  It’s both enjoyable and frustrating at the same time though.  Even though we don’t typically have winning seasons, I am proud to say that all my girls keep returning season to season, so something must be going right!

While I may be one of the most northern residents of the southern-most Oregon workout group, I find the swimmers of Oregon to be a very welcoming active group, of which I am glad to be a member.  I look forward to seeing you at local Oregon competitions as well as Nationals.

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