After rediscovering aggressive swimming, Whitfield resident Randy Russell retains discovering …

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Jun. 17—Randy Russell shocked himself with the success he had in 2019 when he returned to competitors within the sport of his youth.

The Whitfield County resident made a profitable return to aggressive swimming when he received a gold medal within the National Senior Games three years in the past, 40 years faraway from competing with the University of Georgia’s swim staff.

Even with that success — and even along with his position as a swim teacher on the Calhoun Aquatic Center — he wasn’t positive whether or not he wished to proceed with the rigorous coaching schedule that will enable him to compete with the nation’s finest in is age group.

Russell determined to pursue a spot within the National Senior Games — sometimes called the “senior olympics” — once more in 2022, and it paid off.

Russell medaled in 4 occasions at this 12 months’s recreation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in May. The 60-year-old earned the bronze medal in each the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle within the 60-64 division, whereas his relay groups received gold medals within the 55-and-over age group in each the medley and freestyle relays. Russell swam the breaststroke leg of the medley relay and the anchor leg on the freestyle.

His return to aggressive swimming was fairly new in 2019, however this 12 months’s video games, which have been delayed a 12 months due to COVID-19, provided him a possibility to place his expertise as a swim coach to make use of.

Swimmers qualify for the senior olympics by inserting in a qualifying occasion on the state stage. Russell competed in each the Tennessee and Georgia qualifying occasions, qualifying in 12 separate occasions. The video games solely enable every swimmer to compete in six occasions.

“I picked what I thought were my best six and was able to compete at the national level,” Russell stated.

Russell and coaching associate Elizabeth “Bitsy” Aldrich of Calhoun traveled to the video games the place Russell rapidly took cost of making an attempt to arrange the very best relay squads attainable.

Relay groups on the nationwide video games are made up particular person of qualifiers from every state.

“I was kind of the captain for the Georgia and Tennessee team, and I was able to put together a few different relays,” Russell stated. “That was quite a big deal, trying to get to where we could recruit people to get in and put the best teams together. I kind of took on the role of manager to try to put together the relays.”

The identical relay staff, made up of Russell, Karen Bland, Randy Marchman and JoAnn Rogers, was collectively for each gold medals, whereas Russell helped set up different relay groups.

Russell stated since his 2019 return to the water, he is been coaching to remain lively, to show his college students at Calhoun Aquatic Center and to remain prepared for any extra aggressive swimming occasions.

“I coach and swim at the same time, so, everything I teach, I’m in there doing it,” Russell stated.

He and Aldrich, who introduced residence six silver medals from May’s occasion, follow swimming 5 to seven instances per week.

After ready three years to get one other crack at nationwide championship medals within the National Senior Games, Russell will not have to attend lengthy for one more probability.

The video games are subsequent summer season, in an effort to get the occasion again on an odd-year schedule after the COVID-19 delay, in Pittsburgh.

Russell wasn’t positive after the 2019 video games whether or not he wished to proceed pursuing aggressive swimming, however he is already within the water, getting ready for subsequent 12 months.

“That’s the plan,” Russell stated.


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