Taking the Plunge
Photography by Christian Lee
Written by Mary Hope Roseneau
Taking the Plunge
At 5:45 A.M., three times a week, 30-year-old Meredith Anderson leaves her house in the dark. She drives to the YMCA in Port Royal and joins ten like-minded souls to take the plunge into the 82-degree water, doing laps in four reserved lanes for the Beaufort Masters Swim Team. There is friendship and comradery in the hour-long workout, along with the goal to improve one’s time, form and strength, despite the age range from 18 to 80. Meredith is fast—very fast—with swim times that have again qualified her for Nationals this year.
Meredith began swimming with the Tiger Sharks when she was only 5 years old at the Green Street Gym, under Alvin Settles and Pam Drafts. She had a natural talent, along with her two brothers and sister, who all love to swim competitively. (Mom doesn’t like to get her head wet!) But at age 12, her interests changed, and she took up soccer.
She continued playing soccer through nursing school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and also took up running, cycling and naturally, triathlons: swimming, biking and running. She won medals for all of these and moved to Tucson, Ariz., as well as backpacked through Asia, with her brother along for part of the trek.
Beaufort was calling her home, however, and in 2012, she moved back and married her fifth-grade boyfriend from Beaufort Academy, PGA golfer Mark Anderson, who had been busy winning his own medals on the tour. She accompanies him on many of his tournaments, while maintaining a part time nursing position in the Intensive Care Unit at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
Meeting Meredith Anderson at the Waterfront Park in Beaufort was a pleasure. It was a beautiful day and a strong breeze blew the waters of Beaufort Bay towards us. She talked excitedly about the upcoming Beaufort River Swim, which starts off at Port Royal Landing and ends right where we were enjoying the sunshine. Meredith is on the Beaufort River Swim Committee, a YMCA fundraiser to provide swimming lesson scholarships for children in Beaufort and Jasper Counties.
“Do you ever run into. . .well, critters in the river?”
“No, not at all,” she chuckled. “There are usually about 175 of us, plus kayakers stationed along the way, so it’s perfectly safe. Well, maybe the people in front might, but we don’t slow down to worry about it.”
“The Beaufort Masters Swim Team is not one you have to try out for,” she explained. Anyone is welcome to join, and you can even visit for a few times before paying $30 monthly and $45 yearly membership dues.
“The coach is Mary Eklund, who is amazing,” Meredith said, “in that she is able to see everyone’s performance at once and offer suggestions and encouragement, no matter what their ability level.” Meredith’s father is in “the slow lane,” as she put it, and the coach works with him to improve. Once a year the family makes it a point to gather at a meet with the “Andrepont Kids” Relay Team: Two boys, two girls (her siblings), and Mom and Dad cheering on the sidelines.
I asked if competitive swimming was her passion these days, or the triathlon, which combines three events. With a little blush, she said, “No, well, actually I have some news. My real passion this year will be having a baby in September, so sports aren’t at the top of my list right now. My goal is to learn the open turn, instead of the flip turn, though.” She demonstrated the maneuver a swimmer does at the wall, “You put yourself in a tight little ball and flip head over heel;” not that easy with a big belly!
We are anxious to meet the lucky baby of these two parents! Will she swim or play golf? Probably both.
Why swimming? When I finish a run, I’m just spent. But when I get out of the pool, I’m refreshed and ready for the day. And starving!
What do you eat for breakfast after swim practice? Bacon and eggs, sometimes
in a burrito.
What do you eat at a swim meet? Chunky peanut butter on cinnamon raisin bread.
What do you eat to splurge? Old Bull Tavern's Pizza
What do you do to relax? Knit
When is the YMCA Beaufort River Swim and where can we find out more?
Saturday, June 11 at 9:00 A.M. (to swim with the tide). Log onto www.beaufortriverswim.com for more information.