Fort Monroe major medals at national swim meet
Maj. Barbara Streater from Fort Monroe, Va. competes in the U.S. Masters Swimming Short Course Nationals May 7-10 in Fresno, Calif.

FORT MONROE, Va. - An Army major here has earned recognition by the U.S. Masters Swimming organization as the third-best competitor in her age group (35-39) for the 1,650-yard freestyle and one-mile open water events. She is also ranked eighth by the USMS for the 50-yard backstroke.

Maj. Barbara Streater, the Executive Officer to the Assistant Deputy for TRADOC G-3/5/7, established her standings during the USMS Short Course Nationals that took place in Fresno, Calif., May 7-10. The event drew 1,582 swimmers from across the nation. Streater kicked in medal winning times of 20:46.25 for the freestyle event and 21:51.8 for the one-mile open water swim. Her 50-yard backstroke time was 34.38. She was among the top 12 competitors in the 200-yard individual medley event, and the top 21 for the 100-yard individual medley.

"I haven't competed in 15 years, so I was thrilled with my performances," said Streater, who learned to swim at age 5 and kept up with the sport through college, where she was a distance swimmer for the University of Delaware. During those younger years, she was deeply involved in USA swimming and competed in many regional events. While at Germantown Academy, a Philadelphia area prep school, her team won honors as National Prep School Champions. It was a "thrilling and humbling" time, she said, as she was swimming with classmates who were national record holders and Olympians.

"When I graduated from college, I stopped swimming competitively; however, I would still hit the water now and then as part of my fitness routine. Eventually my sons took an interest in competitive swimming, and they discovered it was really hard work. You just can't tell kids to 'suck it up,' so I figured it would be a good time to lead by example. Plus, I really love to race - it keeps me young, and being part of a team is very rewarding."

Her eldest son, Andrew, was nationally ranked in backstroke at age 6, and continues to train hard and continuously improve, she said. Her other son, Devin, is also becoming a strong competitor at age 5.

"We obviously love being around the water and swimming is a great family event," she said. "In fact, that's a big part of my motivation now ... making them feel proud of what mom can do and encouraging them to reach their potential not only in sports but anything else that they choose to do in life. Swimming and being part of a team is a great life lesson. Being a scholar athlete and learning sportsmanship is very important in the development of children; I want my sons to see that you are never too old to compete and give it your all."

Refocusing on the recent USMS nationals, Streater said she wasn't really concerned about her long hiatus from that level of competition going into the event. Swimming is one of those sports, she explained, where many individuals improve with age, unlike ice skating or gymnastics where an athlete might be considered "washed up" by the time they reach their early 20s. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres was 33 when she won five gold medals at the 2000 games in Sydney, and at age 41, she won 3 silver medals at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

That's just an example, of course. Streater said she has no intention of pushing herself to Olympic competition levels. In fact, her training for the recent USMS nationals was fairly low key.

"On a whim, I swam a local race last fall, and found that I really enjoyed swimming with competitors of varying ages and skill levels. It was really collegial, social, and a lot of fun ... a little less reminiscent of the hard core training and competition I once knew."

After that, she started training with a local team that supported master's level swimmers, and she was hooked. "I couldn't possibly train the same way I did when I was a kid; going at it six to seven days a week. But I still have a fairly well-rounded routine. It includes swimming three days a week, running, some weights, and lots of waterskiing with my husband and sons for a fun cross-train."

She credits the Army also for its overall fitness expectations and emphasis on cardiovascular endurance. That emphasis certainly proved beneficial over the last fifteen years, Streater said.

"In order to qualify for USMS Nationals, I had to swim more challenging sets and make every workout count," she noted. "Joining a team, having a coach, and swimming with others in the pool were very important also for personal improvement. I love to race; so having someone in the water next to me always pushes me to the limit.

"I dropped over two minutes in the 1,650 free since my first race in that event last fall. That's a very significant achievement in swimming, especially over a six month period. It's totally attributable to better workouts and great coaching."

Streater does plan to compete in the 2010 USMS Short Course Nationals in Atlanta and she'll probably start preparing for that race in the fall. Until then, she plans to enjoy the summer waterskiing, which is actually a great way to build upper body strength, she noted. A couple of one-mile "recreational" swimming competitions may be worked into her schedule as well since she enjoys that sort of thing.

Streater offered a parting note of thanks to her husband, Brent, who is assigned to U.S. Army Cadet Command. His support allowed her the extra time to properly train for the USMS event. She also had an "absolutely awesome" cheering squad poolside - her sons.

"I have a great coach (retired Navy Capt. Jim Brinkman) to thank for my markedly improved performances. He's a great mentor, and he knows how to build one heck of a fantastically mean workout! My biggest inspiration, though, is my 67-year-old teammate, Betsy Durrant of Virginia Beach, whom I had the pleasure of watching when she won a National Championship in the 1,650. She is my role model in swimming; and it is this display of lifelong, friendly competition that motivates me to keep competing and striving for excellence."

(Patricia Radcliffe from the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Monroe Public Affairs Office contributed to this article.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16