February 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm EST | by Kevin Majoros
Swimming toward gold
Dustin Sigward, sports, Gay Games, DCAC, gay news, Washington Blade

Dustin Sigward will compete at the Gay Games in August. (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

This is the first in a series of spotlights on the LGBT athletes from the Washington area who will be competing in the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland/Akron. Dustin Sigward will compete in swimming for the District of Columbia Aquatics Club (DCAC). He is also a member of the Stonewall Kickball League.


WASHINGTON BLADE: What is your swimming background?

DUSTIN SIGWARD: My swimming experience is almost strictly from high school in Florida. I joined the swim team my freshman year and was barely able to put my face in the water. I was raised in Virginia and my experience with pools was limited to the occasional birthday party or the random summer day. Through hard work and playing water polo, I went from dog paddling to competing in the state championships in three years. I would say that puberty had something to do with it, but I am still waiting for the time I can shave every day. I wanted to swim in college at the University of Florida whose roster at the time included Ryan Lochte. Since I put myself through school, it was not possible to work multiple jobs, attend classes and keep up with the two-a-day workouts and mandatory weight lifting that comes with Division 1 swimming. I have been swimming with DCAC for a little over a year and I am faster than I ever was in high school. At the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championships (IGLA) in Seattle last year, I took home six gold medals.


BLADE: Did you play any other sports growing up?

SIGWARD: I played water polo for three years in high school. It’s a grueling sport and it really helped me step up my swimming game.


BLADE: What events will you compete in at the Gay Games?

SIGWARD: I have not registered for my events yet, but I probably will not be swimming anything over 100 meters unless it is in a relay. I will definitely be competing in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly.


BLADE: What will your training regimen consist of leading up to the Gay Games?

SIGWARD: I will be training in the pool three-to-four times a week and lifting weights five days a week. I would like to include some yoga, but do not see that happening with a full-time job, part-time bartending, kickball and the obligatory post-kickball flip cup.


BLADE: What is it about swimming that keeps you in the sport?

SIGWARD: Along with the health benefits, swimming is a great full body workout with low impact. If you look at some of the guys on our team, you would think we had found the fountain of youth. I also feel a great sense of achievement when I break a personal record or set a goal and can see measurable progress towards it. It is just a great sport for an introvert. I like to say that I am like a cat; I like to be people-adjacent. I like seeing them, but don’t necessarily want to interact with them for too long. Swimming is incredibly cathartic and it puts me in the zone and gives me a chance to get to know a bunch of new people without getting overwhelmed.  Most of the practice is spent counting laps and singing show tunes to myself.


BLADE: Any embarrassing swimming stories to share?

SIGWARD: In high school, I was very shy and the process of getting fitted for my first Speedo was a horrifying ordeal. The female coach inspected our suits for a proper fit and just as she was about to tug at my waistband, I heard a shriek from one of the female swimmers and saw an accusatory finger pointing to the fact that most of my scrotum was hanging out of my suit. I have since grown to love Speedos but I am quite diligent about how neatly put away everything is and a few people on DCAC have commented about my suits being a little too conservative.


BLADE: Have you been to the Gay Games? What are you most looking forward to?

SIGWARD: This will be my first Gay Games and I am looking forward to beating a few personal records and maybe getting a team record in the process. Mostly I am going to enjoy traveling with a bunch of really great people.

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