Local swimmer reaches 10,000-mile mark | PostIndependent.com

Local swimmer reaches 10,000-mile mark

Most swimmer’s achievements are obtained with the aid of a stopwatch.

Not Jerry Hart. His accomplishments are recorded by an odometer.

And a calendar.

It has taken Hart close to 24 years to swim 10,000 miles. The number, Hart said, was nice to obtain, but it’s not the main reason for his near-daily regimen at the Hot Springs Pool.

It’s for exercise and camaraderie.

Hart started his swims in 1978 as a lunch-break pastime with some of his co-workers at the Forest Service. As the years progressed, Hart’s workouts increased.

Originally, Hart said, he would swim about a mile. That’s now turned into a swim of between two to two-and-a-half miles. According to his figures, he swims around 200 days a year, averaging 480 miles a year.

Roughly a half-dozen regular members attend the workouts, one of whom is Tony Svatos. Svatos swam side-by-side with Hart from the start.

And, depending on the time of the year, others joining Hart at the pool’s lane lines include Sopris Elementary School principal and Sopris Barracuda swim team coach, Howard Jay; Glenwood High School girls swim team coach Lynn Cassidy; Jim Van Meter of Rifle; and GSHS graduate Katie Schaffner, who swims competitively at the University of Northern Colorado.

Hart said that the group was one of the main reasons why he continues to swim.

“It’s a diverse group of people. Over the years, some people have come and gone. Some and enjoy being with us for a while and others have stayed for a long time,” said Hart.

The core of the group is serious about the workouts – something that Hart enjoys.

“We all swim hard. It’s fairly competitive,” Hart said. “Of course, I’m one of the slowest ones in the group now. I used to be faster, but (at 58 years old), I’m not as fast as I used to be.”

“We feed off each other and encourage each other,” Hart continued. “That makes the exercise a lot more fun because you kind of grow on each other and get extra energy with the people your working out with.”

Hart started recording his swimming mileage in 1979, but never paid too much attention to it until six months ago.

“I looked at my records, and I saw that I was close to 10,000 miles,” he said. “Then I could hardly wait to get it.”

Last Friday, Hart obtained his goal. And the swimming group turned Hart’s accomplishment into a mini-event.

Svatos purchased a special swimsuit with “10,000 miles” printed on it for his friend of nearly a quarter-century. Other members presented Hart with a cap. He said those items will be framed and put up on a wall at his home.

And the miles go on for Hart. He was at the pool the next day, starting on his second 10,000 miles.

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