Rick Gerhardt

Hometown and Current residence: Born in Des Moines, IA.  Now live in Rogers.

Family and Occupation:  1 wife (still cute), 4 kids, 10 grandkids, 5 grand dogs.

Swimming background:  Learned to swim underwater at Jewish Community Center at 5 y.o., self-taught to swim on top after a few more years, 1 mile Boy Scout swim, joined High School varsity swim team as freshman (probably because no one else wanted to swim the 400) and All American water polo as senior. No college swimming (not smart enough to train and graduate in 3 years).

Favorite event/race:  Most brag-able swim event was the Escape from Alcatraz. In reality it’s a pretty easy swim if you can get over fear of sharks. I swam almost all of it doing backstroke (so I couldn’t see any fish) and surrounded by as many people (shark bait) as possible. I also did a 11 mile open water swim on a lake in Iowa when I was 17. Each lap was 1/2 mile. I crawled out of the water.

Swimming hero:  I don’t think I have just one “swimming hero”. I have many. I am very grateful to anyone who took the time to help me improve during my swimming journey. I will say that I shook hands with a retired Olympic gold medal swimmer. I was 15 years old and had a promising swimming future. He had been a member of an Olympic freestyle relay team. At that time I didn’t know his name or the fact that there are really 2 relay teams. One team is usually used to qualify the country for the relay event which saves the “A” team to race in the finals. He was part of the “B” team. He was like 6′ 4″ tall and when I shook his hand the tips of my fingers didn’t reach to the middle of his palm. I knew right then that I was a medium size fish in a very small puddle (in Iowa no less). There was no way that I could ever think to swim at his level. As he said goodbye, he said that he was probably the fastest swimmer that nobody has ever heard of.

Swimming goals: Like “Dory” on “Finding Nemo”, just keep swimming. I try to improve something every time I swim and entering competitions or athletic events keeps me motivated to improve. Sometimes injuries or “life” gets in the way of plans, but I think it’s still better than sitting on the couch. At least it keeps things interesting and my kids still call me crazy.

Advice to new masters swimmers: Think about what you are doing all the time. The best athletes think about what their body is doing and what it should be doing all the time. If they are in a team sport, they have a “God view” of where all their teammates are. I guess you would call it, “Be in the moment”. It’s easy to go on autopilot but you are wasting a lot of precious time and just wearing out your joints. Also, make it fun. It’s easier to have fun when you are with other people who are in similar circumstances.

Hobbies: Trying to keep everything I own working and watching grandkids takes up most my spare time/ energy. I am a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary on Beaver Lake. We help boaters in distress, assist the Sheriff Dept., and teach boating safety.

Favorite drills:  Favorite drill/workout would include kicking/pulling with paddles/slight breath holding to get heart rate up/and enough rest between swim sets to be able to say one sentence and hear the reply.

Do you participate in other sports? Did many ocean swims when I lived in San Diego. Did numerous triathlons (olympic distance). Too many half marathons to count and 6 marathons. But all that was 40 lbs ago. Now if I can just learn to walk away from food more often it would help immensely.

Where do you currently swim? Currently swim at Bentonville Community Center with Erin Edminister as coach.  I used to swim at the Rogers Wellness Center but got too many complaints about my splashing too much and “dangerously fast” swimming.  I love swimming at 50 meter Melvin Ford Aquatic Center during the summer. I hate all the turning in a 25 yd. pool.

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