Three Old Friends – Still Athletes and Achievers
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on April 15th, 2010

I’m in St Petersburg FL, resting up for Saturday’s 24-mile swim up Tampa Bay, the first of my three “ultra” swims this year. (Actually the 10-mile Maui Channel swim I did four weeks ago should also count as an ultra as it’s the equivalent of a 40-mile run.)

I spent 6 days driving cross-country from San Diego and was fortunate to be able to meet three good friends, each of whom I’d had the privilege to coach when they (and I) were younger. I was particularly gratified to learn that each was also doing an important race, the week – or even day – of my visit. I love to see my former athletes still aiming for goals and self-improvement decades after I coached them.

My first night out, in Tucson, I had dinner the evening of my arrival,  and breakfast the next day, with Jeff Utsch, who I coached in Richmond VA from 1978-83 where he set team, state and even national records in distance freestyle events. Jeff is 42 now, working in real estate development, and still very fast as a Masters swimmer. Several hours after our breakfast, Jeff swam 1000 yards Free in the AZ State Masters Championship in 10:03.

Two days later I overnighted in San Antonio with Jen Trainor Kennedy, and her husband Tom. Jen is an Army ER physician now and Tom is an instructor at the Officer Basic School at Fort Sam Houston. I coached Jen at West Point from 1996-99, where she set school and conference records in sprint events. The morning I left San Antonio for New Orleans, Jen left the house at 5 am to compete in a triathlon in San Marcos. In only her second year in triathlon, she is aiming to qualify for the US team in the World Triathlon Championships in Beijing and stands an excellent chance.

Then I spent two days and nights in New Orleans, visiting with Laurence Cohen, a personal injury attorney, who I coached at the very start of my career. He entered the US Merchant Marine Academy in Aug 1973 as a raw and gangly 18-year old with burning enthusiasm, who had swum only on a summer league team. Laurence progressed from swimming 200 yards free in 2:15 in his first meet with Kings Point to swimming 1:48 and qualifying for small college national championships just 16 months later. Since taking up triathlon some 20 years ago, Laurence has represented the USA in World Championships and the Maccabiah Games and will compete in the Ochsner New Orleans 70.3 Triathlon this Sunday, a day after I swim Tampa Bay Marathon, with an excellent chance of a podium place in the 50-54 age group.

Read Laurence’s blog about our visit here.

One Response to “Three Old Friends – Still Athletes and Achievers”

  1. robpolley says:


    Related very much to all you write about is the following item from the ASCA e-newsletter – I’m leaving part of it for you here. Thanks again for your great work!

    –Rob Polley

    It doesn’t matter how much you train in a day, if you don’t perfect your body mechanics, it won’t make much of a difference to the finish line. For Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, spending more time on stroke mechanics is more important than the three to five miles twice a day that he puts into his training. The trick is to slow things down and focus on what your body is doing.

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