When Todd Harvey was living in Austin, Texas, he was looking to get back into the sport of swimming but was unable to find a team that was a good match for him.
At the end of 2012, his job in public health administration at the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors moved him to Washington and he was still itching to get back in the water.
“I didn’t know many people here,” says Harvey, 34. “Besides wanting to get back into swimming, I wanted to expand my friendship base in a healthy way.”
He joined the District of Columbia Aquatics Club within a few months of moving to D.C. and has already proven himself a valuable asset to the team winning nine medals at the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics Championships in Seattle last August.
Harvey grew up in Uniontown, Pa., and went through the sports of soccer and wrestling before discovering swimming at age 10. He joined the local YMCA, fell in love with the sport and went on to captain his high school swim team.
This August, Harvey will compete at the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland in the 50, 100 & 200 butterfly, 50 backstroke and 200 freestyle. His training leading up to the Games will consist of swimming four-to-five times a week, weightlifting and solidcore training.
Harvey remains dedicated to the sport of swimming for a number of reasons.
“I think the best thing about swimming as an adult is that I have found an incredible team,” says Harvey. “DCAC is a serious group of well-trained, amazing athletes, who push one another to put forth their best efforts in the pool. We also do a lot of things socially and provide emotional support for one another when it is needed.”
One thing that seems to be a common denominator for all competitive swimmers, Harvey says, is the love of the rush that comes right before a race. There is no time for mistakes in a race and the desire to perform their best puts pressure squarely on the shoulders of each swimmer.
“Swimming is my time to feel athletic and fit. I love being able to measure myself now versus my old self. There is no better feeling than when you feel good in the water. It’s my runway walk and I feel strong.”
This will be Harvey’s first Gay Games and he is looking forward to experiencing the LGBT athletic community, swimming fast and seeing Cleveland from a new perspective.
He also gamely admits there will be a fun side to the proceedings as well.
“I am really looking forward to the on-deck gossip. Who met who, who did what and did you see what he looks like in that Speedo?”