Now that many of the LGBT sports teams in Washington have established solid clubs with strong bases of athletes, an interesting dynamic has emerged between the rookies and veterans on the teams.
This year the Blade will spotlight a rookie and a veteran from the different local teams in a series that will delve into why it is important to have a mix of both types of athletes and how they define each other.
Michael Saxvik joined the District of Columbia Aquatics Club in 2012 after moving to D.C. from St. Louis. A former high school swimmer from Minnesota, he missed the team aspect and being part of a group.
“I wanted to meet people with similar interests, build a new network and have a more structured approach to my workouts,” Saxvik says.
He says he wasn’t expecting to find so many veterans on the team and that what is great about them is the wealth of experience they bring to the table.
“It is nice to have the context of the experienced swimmers and to hear about the origins of the team,” Saxvik says. “I like having that connection to the history.”
Saxvik often finds that he is in the same lane with some of the veterans at practices and admires their work ethic.
“When they kick my butt in practice, it is a great wake up call,” he says.
This year, Saxvik, who is 33 and works in technology and consulting for higher education, joined the board of D.C. Aquatics as membership chair. He felt that it was the right time to step into a leadership role as the veterans have already given so much of their time.
“Being a part of D.C. Aquatics is one of the best things that have happened to me,” Saxvik says. “The veterans prove that there is hope for me to compete in the future.”
Dawson Nash grew up in Baltimore and attended St Paul’s School where athletics are a key skill set for students. He gave lacrosse and wrestling a try but found that he was unsuccessful at being an athlete even though it was something he wanted to achieve.
After moving to D.C., he joined D.C. Aquatics in 1998 because he wanted to compete and has never looked back.
“I love the camaraderie on the team and the challenging workouts,” Nash says. “Being in shape and competing is good for your mind and spirit; it makes you a well-rounded person.”
Nash likes seeing younger people gravitating to the sport and making swimming part of their lives.
“Having the newbies there is a constant reminder that you can’t rest on your laurels,” Nash says. “You can still improve at any age and the rookies motivate you to continue to better yourself.”
Nash, who is 61 and works as a manager of software developers, attended a high school reunion and after sharing stories of traveling the world to compete in swimming, a classmate turned and said, “Wow, you really are an athlete now.”
Nash has no plans to wrap up his swimming career anytime soon and finds contentment in the spirit of the team and meeting other swimmers from all over the world.
In an interesting twist as to what actually defines a veteran, Nash points to a 91-year-old swimmer from California who recently starred in a Speedo ad, swims a mile a day and competes in a dozen swim meets a year.
“In 30 years, I want to be that guy,” Nash says. “Joining this team is one of the best things I have ever done.”