Swimmer Spotlight: Karen Andrus-Hughes 2

Team Club Sport Oregon (TCSO)

Karen Andrus-Hughes

Karen Andrus-Hughes

I started competing as an Oregon Master Swimmer after a few decades away from competitive swimming.  My two sons were swimming for Tigard-Tualatin Swim Club, and another parent was interested in setting up a Masters program there.  At that point, I wasn’t even aware of USMS.  He set up a meeting for interested parents to discuss options.  He asked each of us to state our interest and goals.  He was anxious to compete again.  I was not.  I was, however, interested in swimming with a workout group.  After a few months, several in the new group asked if I would swim in the Oregon State Games in a relay.  I agreed to join in the relay fun, and added a few individual events.  My individual events were the LCM 100 backstroke and 1500 freestyle.  As a USA swimmer, I was a middle to long distance freestyler, so I thought a slow, easy 1500 would be a good choice in my first meet.  I did not enjoy it at all, and underestimated how much more challenging racing would be 20+ years post-collegiate swimming.  I have not swum a LCM 1500 since.  I did not intend to swim other meets, but the lure of joining other adults that were venturing out of their comfort zone a bit and also seeing some faces I’d not seen since high school had me signing up for a 2nd meet, and the snowball effect took hold.

I currently swim at Club Sport Oregon with a wonderful group of swimmers, most of whom do not choose to compete in swimming pools.  Many are triathletes, and to say I’m inspired by the events they choose to tackle is an understatement!  I also try to make the long drive out to Mt Hood Community College to swim for Dennis Baker and with the Oregon Reign Group when I can.  I have very close swim friends there, and have enjoyed being on some very memorable relays with many there, particularly with Colette Crabbe, Arlene Delmage and Val Jenkins.  Some years back we were dubbed the “Witches of the Northwest” by a northern California Masters swimmer after we had set several national and world relay records.  Though it sounds a bit harsh, the swimmer meant it in jest as she was hoping the “witches” would come to Nationals in Clovis, CA, that year.  I have had the honor to swim relays with the likes of Wink Lamb, Tom Landis and Barbara Frid … remembering one such occasion when I was asked to swim a SCM 280+, 800 free relay with these three at the end of a meet at T-Hills.  If you know me at all, you can probably see the grimace and hear the groan.  Next I hear, “Wink, Tom and Barb will swim if you do.”  Talk about feeling a little sheepish and immensely inspired all at the same time.  All three had surely swum more and longer events than I earlier in the meet – and were each at least a decade older.  It was a great honor to be on this relay.  There have been other similar experiences at other meets and with other amazing swimmers I’ve been fortunate to swim Oregon relays with in the quest for some records.  I’ve also been lucky to cheer for my mom, Jerri Kawabata, who swims for the Tualatin Hills Barracudas.  Unlike myself, she is not afraid to swim “the mile” – setting several W80-84 Oregon and Zone records this past summer at the Gil Young meet, including the LCM 1500.  As I’ve entered my upper 50s, I’ve mentally struggled coming to grips with slower times, and am striving to find enjoyment in the journey and just the plain fact I’m able to participate in such a great sport.

Work-wise I’ve been in marketing for most of my career, and four years ago made the transition from the forest products industry to swimpool deck equipment.  As Marketing Manager at S.R.Smith, I help promote our residential and commercial pool deck equipment here in the U.S. as well as Australia.  As a swimmer, and advocate of aquatic activities for the health and well-being of all, I feel fortunate to have landed at S.R.Smith, and to be a member of the Oregon Masters Swim Community.

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2 thoughts on “Swimmer Spotlight: Karen Andrus-Hughes

  • Peter metzger

    Nice article Karen.really enjoyed reading your story as I sit here in Tampa on Holliday.makes me feel a little closer to home when I can read about friends. Really have enjoyed competing with you over the years. I have to agree with you about it being hard to accept swimming slower as we age.

  • Douglas Hynds

    How wonderful to find out you are doing so well! I have worked my way back to the Northwest from the Tampa area. Not sure why I am here, but there must be a reason. If you care or would like to say Hi, I can be reached at 813-719-5250. Anytime. I see that your post is quite old but I still hope to hear from you.