Swimmer Spotlight – Kevin Doherty 5


Kevin Doherty

Kevin Doherty

Name:                Kevin Doherty
Age:                    49
Occupation:      Kaiser Permanente, Human Resources
Team:                 Oregon Reign Masters

Hi.  I’m Kevin.  I just moved to Portland from Denver!  I came here for a job with Kaiser Permanente.  I’m an HR consultant, and have been with the company for 14 years.  I train classes, and mediate between unions and the company.

What’s more interesting is the Northwest!  I’ve been trying to get out here for decades.  I interviewed for a job here 15 years ago!  I finally made it and couldn’t be more pleased.  I LOVE all the green, the water and gorgeous nature all around.  I’ve been coming to the NW for vacations for the past 20 years, so it now feels like I’m on a permanent vacation.

I was born in Michigan, but grew up in Alabama.  I started swimming lessons at my local pool, and that lead to joining the summer swim team.  I wasn’t good, but I loved the correlation between hard work and success.  I worked hard and got better.  That lead to joining a club team, Decatur Swim Association (DSA).  My coach, Barb Belyea, coached me, believed in me and pushed me to improve.

My parents divorced when I was 14.  My beautiful mother and I moved to Huntsville, Alabama, and I joined Huntsville Swim Association (HSA).  Head Coach, Brooke Pate, coached me to Top-10 age group performances.  I went on to make Junior Nationals and Senior Nationals swimming under Brooke and HSA.

I got a scholarship to the University of Tennessee, and swam under John Trembly.  I was a distance swimmer.  I swam at UT for 3 years, but eventually burned out from all the training, and was starting to find other interests.  However, it was at Tennessee that I discovered I also loved doing Triathlons.  I did a few races and did well.  But, at that point, I was pretty burnt out so I “retired” from swimming.

I moved to Colorado in 1995 for graduate school.  I studied hard, but swam little.  So, I got fat and out of shape.  I joined a Master’s team to lose weight and to get fit.  I joined Foothills Master’s Swim team under coach Terry Heggy.  It was there that I was reminded of my love for swimming.

I met a few triathletes who encouraged me to get back into triathlons.  I borrowed bikes, did a few tri’s and was successful.  I made the decision to pursue triathlon, since it had just become an Olympic Sport, and I had another shot at making the Olympic Team.  I quit my job and moved to Australia to train with a squad of professional triathletes.

I returned from Australia tanned and with Platinum hair.  I applied for the Resident Team in triathlon at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO and Chula Vista, CA and was accepted.  I went professional, and then trained and raced for years as a pro triathlete.

Once I realized I wasn’t going to make the Olympic Team, I retired from triathlon.  I moved back to Denver and started my professional career.  Again, I got fat and out of shape.

It was in my 30s that a friend encouraged me to get back into swimming, so I started training on my own and entered the Colorado State Masters Championship.  I did well and got bit by the competition bug.  Over the next decade, I competed in many National Masters Championships.  I picked up a few Colorado records and a few All-American awards along the way.

In the last few years, I learned how important swimming is to me.  When pools were shut down and pool time was hard to find, I found time to swim.  I swam in lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, flumes, oceans and hotel-sized pools.  I even designed a swim belt and bungee cords to swim in place in small pools.  I realized that I’m committed to the sport.

I rejoined a Masters training program when I moved to Portland in May of 2022.  I joined the Oregon Reign Masters program under coach Dennis Baker.  I’m currently 49 years young, so am trying to get back in racing shape for when I turn 50 and enter a new age group.  I’ve met some wonderful people like Adam (Trexler) and Megan (Tosh) who welcomed me like family.  Although I am in a new city, I feel like I am coming home.

When I’m not swimming, I’m working in my garden and my new home in NE Portland.  My other passion is kiteboarding.  So, when it’s windy, I’m chasing the wind in the Columbia Gorge.  This winter I hope to get my snowboard out of storage and hit the slopes.  The NW is such a playground, and I can’t wait to explore it all.

So, swimming has become less of a chore but more of a lifestyle! The Northwest is a perfect place to live out my lifestyle of swimming, kiting, and gardening!  I’m so grateful to be here and excited to experience all that I can.


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