In the true spirit of amateur athletics, Blacksburg native does swimmingly, encourages others


David Wright, 69, a Blacksburg native and resident, competed in swimming at the Virginia State Games of America held in Lynchburg this month, placing in all eight events in which he competed.

On that weekend, Wright came in second in both the 200-meter free and the 50-meter free, and won the 100-meter free and the 50-meter fly in the 65-69 year age group.

The following day, Wright was second in the 50-yard free and the 200-yard free winning the 50-yard fly, and the 100-yard fly.

The two guys who beat him four times were both 65 years old and live in Georgia and Wisconsin, said the announcement of his achievements this week.

“Inspiring wellness and competition in the true spirit of amateur athletics,” the Virginia State Games of America, says its website, bring thousands of athletes from all over the country. In their thirtieth year, the two-day events provide a venue for more than 55 Olympic and Pan American sports at all ages and skill levels.

Wright , who coached cross-country and indoor and outdoor track at both Dublin and Pulaski County high schools and taught for 44 years in Pulaski County, learned to swim when he was about 8.

When he was 13, he and his three brothers were put on a summer swim team in Albuquerque, N.M.  ,where his dad worked for 3 summers. When he was 16, he and his brothers and many others were members of the first Blacksburg swim team, made up of Shawnee Swim Club and Blacksburg Country Club swimmers.

Although he swam in the summer for a couple more  years, he was a runner from the eighth grade until he was 54. He ran track in high school and college and in the first Virginia State Games in 1990, until, finally, at 54, a bad knee forced him to quit running. So he started swimming again and he has swum in the Virginia State Games for about 20 years.

His favorite stokes, reportedly, are butterfly and the front crawl, which is done in freestyle, as freestyle is not a stroke.

His favorite events are butterfly and freestyle.

“Any stroke can be done in freestyle, but crawl is usually done as it is the fastest,” Wright pointed out.

While he does get nervous before a race, but usually the day before, on race day, you just warm up, and then do your best he said.

Advising others considering taking up running or swimming, he says, “Anyone can run, the hard part would be learning to swim. Learning to swim takes much more time to learn, and is not a natural movement for humans.”

To get better, he says, one has to put in the time practicing.

“Researching running and swimming on the Internet would help also. And a good coach may also be necessary. It’s never to late to learn!!”

—-Liz Kirchner