One stroke at a time: Glenwood resident to attempt record swim at Hot Springs Pool to benefit nurses

Feat a fundraiser for nurses

Joe Wainwright at the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Joe Wainwright likes to move forward. 

A serious car crash at age 16 affected his ability to move to the left or right.

“I just started going long and straight. … Kind of turned a curse into a blessing,” Wainwright said.

Wainwright, 32, will attempt the longest continuous swim in the Glenwood Hot Springs on Thursday.

He said there is no official distance record on file at the pool, but his goal is somewhere around 10 miles.

Longtime local Tony Svatos said he has twice swum 10 miles in the pool, though he said, “I can’t say that my feet never touched the bottom of the pool.”

Wainwright intends to complete his swim in purist fashion, treading water in the deep end when he needs to eat or drink. 

He said it will take him about five hours to complete 10 miles, though he might not stop there.

Joe Wainwright swims laps at the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Nursing fundraiser

Wainwright’s mother has been a nurse for 35-40 years. This influenced his decision to make his swim a benefit for nurses, especially in light of the risks they face fighting COVID-19.

“What’s 5 or 6, 7 hours — whatever it’s going to be — of my time versus these ladies and gentlemen who have been working non-stop for the last four or five months? … I feel like sometimes they’re just underappreciated,” he said.

He got in touch with Bridgid Dunlap, Valley View Foundation annual gifts associate. They decided to put any funds raised to the hospital’s Nursing Residency Program.

“Joe actually reached out to us. He told us his mom has been a nurse for years and years, and he just wanted to look for a way to support the nursing staff at Valley View. This is a really great program that we have running to bring on new nurses and give them the support they need. We thought it was a good fit there, and he agreed,” Dunlap said.

According to Wainwright’s fundraising page on Valley View Hospital’s website, “Funds raised will support Valley View’s Nurse Residency Program, to help transition registered nurses (RNs) into new practice that meet rigorous, evidence-based standards for quality and excellence.”

Wainwright’s original fundraising goal of $1,000 goal was reached Monday morning. He has now reset his goal to $5,000, of which $1,145 had been raised by midday Monday.

Joe Wainwright swims laps at the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Endurance lifestyle

Wainwright is no stranger to long-distance events. Perhaps most impressive is his 21.25 mile swim across Lake Tahoe, which took him just under 15 hours to complete. He said he was the 27th person to do so.

He has also raced 12.5 miles around Key West Island, completed Ironman Boulder in 2015, and biked across the U.S. from Lubbock, Maine, to Santa Monica, California, a distance of 3,684 miles.

The bike ride raised $10,000 to help combat Multiple Sclerosis and Fragile X Syndrome.

Wainwright said his long-distance pursuits carry over to the rest of his life.

“I just like to test myself and see how far you can actually push your body. I feel like that correlates to life, too. Any of these endurance events I’ve done I feel they can easily translate into the working industry. Who can say that I can’t do this or can’t do that when I’m sitting here and I just did something that 0.05% of the U.S. could maybe do. But then again I think anyone is capable of doing anything. I don’t want to say that I’m any different or special or my body is different than anyone else’s,” he said.

Wainwright’s wife, Hannah, said one of his secrets is a laid-back approach: “He hardly trains for these events.”

“You’d think I’d train and train and train, but I think it’s such a mental thing,” he said.

Wainwright said he’s swimming 10–15 miles a week with longer days of 3 or 4 miles.


During his hot springs swim, Wainwright said nutrition will be key. “I’m going to lose so much, but it’s not going to feel like you’re losing it. … On anything long like this you kinda go through the whole system, I’m probably gonna have Diet Coke, there’s going to be some caffeine, I’m going to want something different. I remember on Tahoe I had a couple of Subway sandwiches. It could be anything. I might have Slope and Hatch, chocolate, bananas.”

He has a couple of dietary restrictions. For his sake he avoids gluten, and for his wife’s sake he’s dairy free.

“He has an impeccable diet, that’s a secret as well,” Hannah said.

Wanting to work in the community

For the time being, Wainwright has the time to dedicate to his record-breaking pursuit. He was working for a logistics company contracted to UPS, but his job was a casualty of COVID.

He has yet to get callbacks for jobs he’s sure he’s qualified for. His wife works as a pediatric dentist for All Kids Dental in Glenwood Springs and Rifle, but he admits, “I’ve got to find something. … [There’s] a lot of urgency from the other half.”

Whatever work he finds, he said he wants his job to bring him into the community.

“This community is so tight-knit. I want to come into the community and help out here. I want to do something local. I don’t want to work remote and help a company out of Dallas,” he said.

He has worked in the oil and gas industry and was employed by Key Energy Services in Denver. That was where he met his wife when she was in dental school.

“We met in downtown Denver. … We were on our first date, we were out eating — we had just met, we didn’t know anything about each other — and the waitress comes up to us said, ‘You guys look like you’ve been together forever. I know, how about you all order for each other.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, no, this is bad.’ I have a dairy allergy, so I thought he was going to order me cheese pizza or something. But he ended up ordering me salmon and salad with balsamic,” she said.

A golf family

Wainwright and his wife have been in Glenwood for about a year. They lived in Canyon Creek but recently bought a house on the Glenwood Springs Golf Club.

That is a homecoming of sorts for Wainwright. Born and raised in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Wainwright said, “I play golf, too. My dad’s been in the golf industry for 40 years. He was the head pro at Pinehurst [Resort] back in 1980. My brother’s with U.S. Kids Golf, my sister’s with Golf Pride. It runs in the family.”

His wife was a bit more effusive about his abilities. 

“He is a really fantastic golfer. … When we were in Florida we’d go to the driving range. … When Joe would start hitting balls the other people at the driving range would just stop and watch him,” she said.

Here to stay

Both he and his wife are happy in Glenwood.

“We love it here. I don’t see us going anywhere else. It would be a huge downgrade. … We’re so active that this is a perfect place for us. You can go three different directions and hit three totally different geographical areas,” he said.

“This is the perfect fit for us just because of all the outdoor activities, and the accessibility to everything, also just the small-town feel,” Hannah agreed.

Despite his athletic prowess, Wainwright does apparently have an Achilles heel.

“I always joke around that I’m the faster one. Slow and steady wins the race, but ultimately I would win if it were a sprint,” Hannah said.

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