Chuck DiMeglio, 62
Chuck DiMeglio admits he’s a detail-oriented guy who is driven by challenges. Like keeping records of his lifetime swims and achieving the goal of “swimming around the world” in 2022 at age 62.
If you’re counting, that’s 1.75 million pool lengths to get around the globe. And Chuck loves to count. “I’ve set a goal for two million lengths to get to a nice even number,” he says. “That should take me another five years to do.”
“I guess I’m just an analytical person,” he muses. “I started thinking about how far I’d swam and how much it would take to go around the world. I decided I could do it.” Chuck had been recording his swims in a day planner since post-college days, and the task has been easier in recent years. “I was swimming so much I found it was actually easier to count the days I didn’t swim my routine.”
The idea was natural for a guy who earned degrees in engineering and finance and is a certified public accountant (CPA). In case you’re wondering, Chuck didn’t stop at counting pool lengths. He estimates his circumnavigation also involved 180 swimsuits, 150 pairs of goggles, 80 gallons of shampoo, 30 gym bags, 15 pairs of paddles, 10 pairs of fins, four pull buoys, three kickboards and a half gallon of Visine. Oh yes, plus seven padlocks and 4,000 quarters for lockers.
“No, I didn’t keep a log of how many towels I used,” he says with a laugh.
Chuck, an active masters swimmer since 1984 who has competed in three National Senior Games, swims five days a week, 51 weeks a year. He had to make up time in recent years. “I had orthoscopic surgery on my elbow in 2013 and sat out for three months,” he recalls. “I calculated how much I had lost during my recovery and swam extra lengths to catch up, going up to 5,000 yards a day. I did the same thing again when COVID shut down my pool, upping my sessions to 6,500 yards or 18 miles per week. I thought I would drop back down after I caught up, but I have kept up that pace.”
The distance goal was reached last July at the place where he started swimming in 1963 – the pool of the historic La Fonda Hotel in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, where his father was the general manager. “We didn’t have much as kids for recreation growing up in the hotel,” he recalls. “The pool was just a great place to be.”
Chuck and his twin brother swam competitively in clubs and high school. Moving to Williamsburg, Virginia, Chuck captained the high school team. “We had 30 swimmers and divers using a four-lane pool that was 20 yards long to train. Not the best conditions.”
In college Chuck trained with the swim team at the University of Virginia until an illness and the pressure of completing an engineering degree altered his plans to only swim on a club team and in intramurals and focus on studies. After college he kept swimming thanks to his employer. “I went to work for a Big 8 accounting firm that participated in ‘Battle of the Corporate Stars.’ I was on that team for five years and we won a couple of national championships. My workload was heavy, but the swimming actually helped me through it.”
He found National Senior Games beginning in Houston in 2011 where he was “fairly surprised” to win Gold medals in both the 50-meter backstroke and butterfly and in the 100-meter individual medley event, plus a Silver in the 100-meter freestyle. Chuck looks forward to competing in Pittsburgh in 2023. “My aunt and her family lived there for decades, and I have a relative still there. I’ve also done some work as a consultant in Pittsburgh for a major airline. My wife and I are both excited to go.”
Golf is a close second sport for Chuck, who has a single digit handicap. Has he kept track of how far he has gone hitting golf balls? “No, but that’s a good one! I have considered going around the world in a golf cart. I usually swim five days and then play golf on the weekends. I figure I’ve put down 300 to 400 miles a year in a cart. That adds up.”
Chuck is also proud to be a role model for his three children. “They all swam for clubs, summer leagues and high schools and have been coaches and teachers,” he says. “My son David broke a few Northern Virginia Swim League relay records, and one still stands today. He was also on the club team at the University of Virginia. My daughter Sarah says she got her position in pediatrics at a big hospital here partly because of her experience as a swim coach and teacher where she learned how to manage little kids well. She also said she learned how to manage parents well too!”