On Dec. 28, 2017, Boeing engineer Chet Blum of Kent completed 1,000 miles of swimming over the course of one year.
Tukwila Pool lifeguards and swimming instructors cheered him on as he swam the last few of his 35,200 annual laps with his swimming buddy at his side — self-employed engineer Doug Sharkey.
That is no typo: One thousand miles. Almost three miles a day on average — and some days as much as eight and a half miles.
I spoke with Chet back in November about his distance swimming. He was a bit reluctant when asked if we could let readers know what he was accomplishing.
“I’ll share why I like to swim, but I’m not interested in stating per se how much I swim or stating how far I swim, or how fast I swim. Because if you look at the numbers, well, it’s ridiculous the numbers I do. But I’m not that fast, and it’s just my passion — I like to swim,” Blum said.
Blum went onto say he realizes it might be tough for others to relate to just how much time he spends in the water.
“I can actually understand what Chet’s saying,” Doug Sharkey picked up. “You would scare them. That would be really intimidating. If you’re trying to entice people to come, you start reading about lunatics like this guy (Chet), and people are going to go, ‘What? They’re going to do that?’”
Chet laughed, and said, “We’re kind of like the regular crew.” Doug interjected, “Well, at least at night.”
The two, along with other friends, have been swimming at Tukwila Pool about five years. Doug also worked out there a few decades earlier as a member of the Husky Swim Club.
Q. Why do you swim?
A. Chet said, “The number one thing is general conditioning, and stress reduction. I work as an engineer all day. Coming here, it gives me a chance to cool down and relax. And along with that, I get a workout.”
Doug responded, “General stamina, lung capacity, stress relief.”
“Doug and the others were either high school and/or college swimmers, so they’re used to workout sets,” added Chet. “But I never truly race like they do. I came on as a jogger. My focus is endurance, and theirs is sprinting.”
Q. What health benefits do you see from your swimming?
A. Doug: “Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol; helping keep all that stuff low-low-low.”
Chet: “My resting pulse is down to 50. That’s a benefit of consistent exercise. And I’m having fun. If you’re really pushing yourself, you can’t maintain your focus on anything else. You’re challenging yourself. I’ll try to beat him this lap, he’ll try to beat me that lap.”
Q: Is there anything special about Tukwila Pool?
Chet said the pricing is among the best in the area, said that it is a very pleasant pool with a great atmosphere. “Also, you see families coming in with kids. It’s a chance to support the community.”
Doug listed three things.
1. Water temperature is excellent and consistent —perfect for working out (84.5 degrees).
2. Not overly crowded for lap swimming.
3. The pool is consistently open. “That’s why I switched from other pools in the past. Mechanical breakdowns (elsewhere) were like once every two weeks.”
And Chet agreed with Doug’s closing statement, “Overall, the place is awesome.”
Tukwila Pool offers many hours of lap swimming, water walking, vertical exercise, some water aerobics classes, family open swims, and swimming lessons. Regardless of your swimming level, there’s a time and a place for you at your local Tukwila Pool.
If you come in the evenings, maybe you can say hello to Chet and Doug.
Kim McCoy is the assistant aquatics manager for the Tukwila Pool.