Local area swimmer competes in National Senior Games


Story by Dave Lange

The speed through the swimming pool may not be as swift as it once was, but the rush of the competition is still there, according to Dave Lange, who returned to his Carroll County home July 13, after competing in the 2015 National Senior Games in Minneapolis. The highlight of three days of racing in the University of Minnesota natatorium for the 65-year-old Malvern resident was his fifth-place finish in the grueling 200-yard breaststroke. “It was pretty cool to stand up on the winners podium with some guys who


were all-American swimmers back in their college days,” Lange said. “And to hear the cheers from the crowd when my name and state of Ohio were announced made me proud.” The winner in that event, Bruce Rollins, of Texas, not only was a collegiate all-American but also was his state champion in high school nearly a half century ago. “I think just about every state was

represented at the natatorium, plus a few swimmers from other countries,” Lange said. Nearly 10,000 athletes age 50 and older were in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to compete in 19 different sports during the National Senior Games, which are held every other year. Cleveland hosted the event two years ago, which is when Lange became interested in giving it a shot. So he entered the 2014 Ohio Senior Olympics, which were hosted by Canton and Stark County. Competing at the Perry High School Natatorium last summer, he captured four gold medals and one silver medal. The top three placers in each age group qualified for the National Senior Games. In addition to the 200-yard breaststroke, Lange stepped up on the podium with eighth place in the 100-yard breaststroke. He took ninth place in both the 50-yard breaststroke and 50-yard butterfly and 10th place in the 100-yard individual medley. “I was pleased with all five of my events,” Lange said, “because all of my times were faster than I went a year ago. The 200 breast was especially gratifying, because I dropped nearly 12 seconds off my time and moved up from the eighth-place seed to fifth place. The 200 is a real bear, even for much younger swimmers. You could compare it to the 800 meters in track; only plowing through the water is tougher. I also felt my butterfly race went very well, and you can just go all out at that short distance.” Swimming has been a big part of Lange’s life since he began competing at the age of 10 with the Cuyahoga Falls YMCA team. “My first race was at the Dover YMCA in the butterfly,” he said. “My coach quickly decided that my specialty would be breaststroke instead. Later on, I also swam the individual medley, which includes all four strokes, at Hoban High School in Akron and at Cuyahoga Falls High School.” While a number of the guys he grew up with went on to swim in college, Lange decided to serve his country instead and joined the U.S. Navy. He led his boot-camp company swim team to a medley-relay championship at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois. Following his training, he volunteered to go to Vietnam, where he worked with the Navy’s mobile riverine forces. Following that duty, he was attached to a helicopter squadron that deployed aboard aircraft carriers. That gave him an opportunity to swim on a Navy team against some European competition. Prior to moving to Carroll County in 2009, Lange coached varsity swimming at Kenston High School in Geauga County. “Those were some of the greatest years of my life,” he said. “Working with young people, watching them grow and improve, both as athletes and as human beings, was just a wonderful experience. Both of my sons, Erik and Tony, were all-conference swimmers at Kenston, as well as soccer and track standouts, and Erik won three Ohio Athletic Conference championships when he swam for Ohio Northern University.” Swimming at the age of 65 is a lot different than doing it as a teenager, Lange said. “Your body just doesn’t want to go like it used to. But it’s great exercise at any age. I especially like swimming in the open water at Lake Mohawk, generally from mid-May until early October. In the colder months, I’m grateful to have a world-class pool like C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton not too far away.” He said he’d like to see a new pool in Carroll County. He’s involved with the Ohio Appalachian Veterans Memorial and Community Center, formerly the Carroll County Veteran’s Club Memorial Fund, which is working to raise funds to renovate the old pool building on Brenner Road. Lange also is a board member of the Carroll County Veteran’s Club. “Veterans have done so much for their country and this community,” he said. “I hope I can do a small part to help preserve their legacy.”