This week, we hear Bill Putnam Jr.’s story of how he overcame two types of cancer, plus rotator cuff surgery to come out on top with a 1st place finish at this year’s Missouri Senior Games. Hear how MySwimPro is helping him train!
MEET BILL PUTNAM JR.
My name is Bill Putnam Jr. and I’d like to tell you my story of how swimming has made a difference in my life. I am 75 years old and live in Carthage, Missouri.I spent many years working with my family business Tapjac Lumber and Building Materials which was founded by my grandfather in 1899. Now, I am semi-retired, and own an office building in Carthage.
MY BACKGROUND IN SWIMMING
I began swimming at age 11 at a summer camp in Minnesota called Camp White Earth. It was run by Niels Thorpe, who was the long-time head swim coach at the University of Minnesota, so I was lucky to begin with great instructional training.
I continued to swim throughout my youth, and went on to swim competitively for two years at the Mercersburg Academy, in Pennsylvania. There, I placed 8th in the 100 Freestyle at the Easter Interscholastic Meet, and I was a member of the 1961 Prep School All-American Swim Team for being part of the 9th fastest 200 Freestyle Relay in the country.
I then swam at Beloit College, a Division III university in Beloit, Wisconsin. During my time at Beloit, I never lost an individual or relay event in the Midwest Conference, and I set nearly two dozen conference, school and pool records during my 4-year career. In 1965, I swam in the NCAA Small College National meet and received a “B” Blanket as one of the top four athletes at Beloit for that year. In 1992, I was proudly named to the Beloit Athletic Hall of Honor.
Upon graduation, I was the only swimmer ever to have won four different individual events in their career at the Midwest Conference Championships (50, 100, 200, & 500 Freestyle).
My overall records in 106 races, including relays, were:
- 90 1st place finishes
- 10 2nd place finishes
- 3 3rd place finishes
- 3 other finishes, including an NCAA Small College Regional meet in 1963
After college, I coached for one year at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and coached age group teams for nine years.
“I love it when several of my former swimmers still call me Coach”
Throughout my 20’s and 30’s, I did not have an indoor pool available and did not work out until around 1978, which was when I started running. Since I wasn’t in the pool for quite some time, I did a 15-mile road race in 1980, and a mini triathlon in 1983 when I turned 40.
About that same time, I also started swimming again, as I developed a back issue, which was a degenerative disc disease. It wasn’t consistently, but I was happy to be back in the water when I could access a pool. Luckily, around 1994, our local Family YMCA was built with a pool, and I was back swimming a continuous mile 2-3 times a week. For the next 24 years, I was swimming on and off again, on my own at the local pool.
As the years went by, I struggled to swim consistently as I had rotator cuff surgery in 1999, kidney cancer in 2010, and prostate cancer in 2015.
Going through health complications and injuries is certainly not easy, but I’ve always pushed myself to get healthier so that I can be back in the pool swimming.
In the past couple of years, I’ve gotten to a point where I’m training consistently and feeling much stronger and healthier. I was enjoying swimming, but the workouts I was doing were getting boring and routine.
Then somehow I stumbled upon the MySwimPro app, downloaded it on my Apple Watch and decided to give it a try.
I started swimming with the workouts on the app, and really enjoyed the ease of use and the ability to just get in and swim the workouts. I no longer had to think about what I was going to swim when I got to the pool.
I got to a point where I wanted to compete again, so I signed up for the Missouri Senior Games in June of 2018.
As soon as I signed up for the Senior Games, I started the 8-Week Enhance Speed Training Plan in the MySwimPro app. I swam 3 days a week, for no more than an hour at a time, and felt myself getting faster every week.
“MySwimPro has spiced up my workouts and given me new swimming goals.”
MY GOLD MEDAL MOMENT
This year, I raced for the first time in 41 years at the 2018 Missouri Senior Games. I won the gold medal in the 100 yard Freestyle for the 75-79 age group!
“I figure it’s pretty good for a guy who’s had kidney and prostate cancer.”
I even qualified for next year’s Nationals in all 3 of my events. Below are my times:
- 1st in 100 Yard Freestyle with 1:16.01
- 3rd in 200 Yard Freestyle with 3:00.42
- 3rd in 500 Yard Freestyle with 8:16.97
Watch his 500 Freestyle start!
At age 75, I am still swimming regularly every week with the MySwimPro Training Plan on my Apple Watch and iPhone.
I have logged over 66 miles of swimming in the app!
I am just trying to push the Grim Reaper back into the shadows. My goal is to lose about 15 pounds to get back to college weight. I’m also looking forward to competing next June at Nationals!
Just swim. It’s great exercise, will help you feel great and have energy, and MySwimPro can be your coach. This is a great advantage if you are in an area without an active Masters swimming program, like I am.
Nice job, Bill! Thanks for sharing your #GoldMedalMoment, keep up the hard work, and good luck with your races next year!
If you have a #GoldMedalMoment you would like to share with us, we’d love to hear it! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re looking for personalized workouts and training plans for your Apple watch, download the MySwimPro Apple Watch App! Your first week of Premium is free!