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Many people celebrate their birthdays with cake. Dan Miles celebrated his birthday with a dip in the pool.
Miles, who’s hardly a stranger to the water, went up and back the whole length of the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center 90 times for his 90th birthday last week.
And, just the way any longtime competitive swimmer might, Miles was unimpressed with his performance.
“It took me forever,” said Miles, one of the most accomplished swimmers in the history of the state senior games. “It took me over an hour. I had a lot of support. Bill Hudson and several others helped me for some of the distance.”
Few others could make a good case for being a better senior swimmer in the state — Los Alamos’ Jackie Marr being one of the few — than Miles. He has won the maximum 10 gold medals in his age division more years than not since starting competition in the games 12 years ago. 2010, in fact, was one of the few years in which he didn’t reach the maximum number, although he won nine golds, one in every event he swam.
But anytime his successes start going to his head, he said, he recalls losing a distance event 25 years ago to a competitor with one leg.
“Things like that put your in your place,” he said.
Miles said, he’s had to change up his workout regiment because of recent shoulder problems. He’s doing less butterfly since his shoulder began to flare up.
Miles was born on Dec. 8, 1920.
He served in World War II in the Pacific theater — after originally being stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas where he was given the position of lifeguard in the nurse’s pool, the favorite job he’s ever held.
Less than halfway to his 90-lap goal, Miles started questioning why he was putting himself through the swim, but toward the end started wondering what he might do to celebrate his 100th birthday.
Swimming, he said, has helped him reach age 90. Another big component of his longevity: not eating his vegetables.
“I guess I feel OK,” he said. “Ninety feels better than I thought it would.”