Swimming: Miles goes the extra mile at the state Senior Olympics

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By Deborah Francisco

Local swimmer Dan Miles has so much bling, even Michael Phelps might get jealous.

The 88-year-old has swept the New Mexico Senior Olympics for the past decade, winning nearly every event he has entered and setting state records in many of them.

“Dan Miles has won 10 gold medals every year for the past 10 years,” fellow Senior Olympic swimmer Bill Hudson explained. “Nobody has ever beaten Dan. Dan is a natural master swimmer and he has competed on the national level and on the international level.”

This year was no exception for Miles, who again captured gold medals in each of his events — the 100-yard freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, the 100 and 200 individual medley, the 100 and 200 backstroke, the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke.

Miles, however, is a humble, down-to-earth guy who practically shrugs off his continual success.

“Most of my competition is either dead or sitting in front of a TV with their feet up,” he said. “I don’t have much competition (in my age group).”

However, the numbers speak on Miles’ behalf.

In 2007 he swept his events at the New Mexico Senior Olympics as usual and qualified to compete at the National Senior Games in Louisville, Ky.

Miles was finally up against some tough competition. He rose to the occasion, setting national records in five of his six events.

“The last event, the one I didn’t set a record in, was kind of short for me,” Miles said. “I’m a long distance guy.”

Miles certainly impressed the masses in Louisville with his steady strokes.

“There was some competition there and one of the guys asked me afterwards if I was on steroids,” Miles recalled with a laugh. “I took it as a compliment.”

Miles has been swimming for the majority of his life.

In high school, he was set on going out for the football team but his slight stature made him revise his plan.

“I was real gung-ho about athletics,” Miles said. “I weighed 88 pounds and I went out for the line. Boy, I didn’t make the first cut.”

Instead Miles found success between the lanes when he went out for swimming.

“I was just a little kid the first two years and I didn’t reach my growth or my strength until my junior year,” Miles said.

Miles attended Wooster College in Ohio and again he joined the swim team. He was not permitted to compete his freshman year, however, because the school wanted to promote academics.

Miles swam two years for Wooster College before joining the military following his junior year.

“I got to college in 1939 and I got out in 1945 because I spent three years in the service,” Miles said.

Miles became a petroleum geologist and moved to West Texas, where he once made an oil discovery.

The discovery, however, ended up being far afield from the “black gold” most oilmen are seeking.

“Texas was supplying the whole world with oil at that time,” Miles said. “I couldn’t get anyone to buy my oil. We had too much oil at that time.”

Despite his success in finding oil, there were no pools in the area where he could swim.

Miles moved to Los Alamos during the 1960s to work on the geothermal project at Los Alamos National Laboratory and he began swimming again after a 30-year hiatus from the sport.

“I’m a little over my college weight now but not much,” he said. “I still enjoy competing. The people that you compete with and against are wonderful. It’s a really social thing and you stay in pretty good shape.”