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Navy swimmer eyes 2012 Olympics

Oct. 5, 2009 - 09:37PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 5, 2009 - 09:37PM  |  
Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Lisa Broadfield has her eyes set on long-distance swimming in the 2012 London Olympics.
Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Lisa Broadfield has her eyes set on long-distance swimming in the 2012 London Olympics. ()
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Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Lisa Broadfield knows exactly when the Olympics came into focus as a goal after more than 20 years of competitive swimming.

She was cutting through the frigid water of an Irish river during a 17K race in August. At the 10K mark, her feeder, paddling in a kayak, gave her a caffeine pill and checked her time: 2 hours and 4 minutes. She was only five minutes off the winning time of the 10K race last year in Beijing.

Suddenly, an Olympic berth seemed a lot more real.

But still a challenge: Broadfield, 31, who eventually won that race, trains largely on her own in the one pool at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, and the nearby Mediterranean. She acclimates herself to cold water by submerging herself in ice cubes in her bath tub. Her feeder, Gunner's Mate 1st Class (SW) Kirk Reiner, cheerfully admits he has no background in swimming and had to be coached to be a coach. They travel to races on their own dime.

"If I didn't have any discipline for the sport, there's no way I could do it," said Broadfield, who swims about four hours a day, before work, after work and at lunch time.

The summer months are particularly hard.

"It's difficult to maintain the mental focus when kids are splashing and the music is playing," she said. To get the water to herself, she jokes, "I'm going to throw a pool party and invite no one."

Broadfield is hoping to have a lot more time in the water soon; she's been accepted into the Navy Enlisted Aircrew Program and wants to train as a rescue swimmer at NAS Pensacola, Fla.

"I'll probably spend about 10 hours a day in the water," she said.

Won't she burn out with all that swimming? No way, she said — "it will be the best thing for my training." And she'll be a lot closer to professional coaches.

Besides, she just loves open-water swimming.

"Swimming along with the fishes, it's great. ... Everyone thinks I'm crazy, but everyone asks, ‘When are you going to do the next one?' "

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