Top of Their Game

Six local athletes tell us about the sports that changed their lives — and dish out some inspiration for the rest of us


(page 3 of 6)

Poughkeepsie swimmer Kathleen Davis

Kathleen Davis

54, Poughkeepsie

The recreation director for the town of Hyde Park, Davis is a member of Poughkeepsie’s U.S. Masters swim team. The team competes year-round against other swimmers in the state and region; in 2007, Davis set a New England Masters Championship age-group record in the 200-yard butterfly.

How did you first get involved in swimming?
I was about nine or 10. My father was in the Marine Corps based in Norfolk, Virginia. My parents took my sister and me to the pool and we joined the swim team there. I continued swimming competitively as a youth, but I quit in high school. I just was not interested in doing it any longer. In the mid-1980s, I took it up again, and joined a U.S. Masters swim team that met at the Poughkeepsie YMCA. But the coach moved away, and that team sort of fell apart. About five years ago, I joined up with a group of people who were doing laps together at the Y. Eventually we decided to form another team, and we contacted Ron Terwilliger at Poughkeepsie Middle School to be our coach. There are now about 45 members. It’s a very dedicated group of people.

Why did you decide to start swimming again after so many years?
Because it’s a great way to get fit and stay fit, especially for your cardiovascular system.

What’s your current routine?
I swim three mornings a week for one-and-a-half hours. We start at 6 a.m., and do about 3,000 to 4,000 yards — that’s about 160 lengths of the pool, although the workouts vary from day to day.

You’ve been swimming competitively for several years. What are you most proud of?
I was pleased to find out that I’d broken some New York State championship times for my age group several years ago. But really it’s the thrill of competing that I enjoy the most.

For you, what’s the most difficult thing about being an athlete?
Having to get to bed early! I’m usually there by 9-9:30 p.m. Also, once you get into a routine, sometimes you burn out. Sometimes you’ll overwork yourself, so you’ve got to slow down and rest. Or you might have an injury, so you’ll seek out another way to stay in shape. Most of us on the team cross-train, maybe run, do yoga, walk, or hike.

How do you motivate yourself on those mornings where you’d rather sleep in than swim?
I keep reminding myself that exercise makes you feel better, and it keeps you healthy. When I don’t exercise, I start to feel stressed. And I have a commitment to my team. If you don’t show up, the coach is there asking where you’ve been. I feel a responsibility to my teammates.

What do you enjoy most about your sport?
I enjoy competing locally and regionally. And when you’re on a team, it’s a social outlet. I’ve made friends through swimming, and some of them are former teammates who’ve moved away. It’s great to reconnect with them at other events. But when I’m in the pool, there’s a sense of freedom, both physically and mentally, which is a great release for me. It clears your mind, relaxes and de-stresses. And all those endorphins — they just make me feel good!

For information on places to pursue these sports, check our listings.


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