WEST CHESTER, Ohio, June 11. KAST-A-Way Swimwear, Inc. has named Chris Derks, 37, its 2008 Aquatic Achievement Award Winner. The award is given each year to an inspirational figure who has overcome challenges to excel not only in the water, but in life.
Derks' forte is open water racing. He was a trainer for 1984 and 1988 Olympian Jeff Kostoff, and began competing himself in 1995. His marathon swims have taken him literally around the world, participating in events including the prestigious Great Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim, Traversee Internationale du Lac St. Jean in Quebec, U.S. Masters Swimming in Hollywood, Florida, and the renowned English Channel Swim. He is one of the most decorated open water swimmers in US history.
Derks was nominated by Anne Schuster, after he trained her for two years.
"He wouldn't accept a dime for his help. He embraced me and believed in my goals so thoroughly and helped me because he thought I could do it," Schuster said.
Schuster has since won several prestigious open water swims and crossed the English Channel in an impressive 11 hours, 53 minutes.
"These are not my victories, they are our victories," Schuster continues. "There is no doubt in my mind that had Chris not dedicated himself to my pursuits, they simply wouldn't have had a happy ending."
Chris sees it very differently.
"I was severely burned out from swimming, which had me pretty depressed. My wife would attest that I'm much happier when I'm swimming well vs. when I'm not," Chris said. "Meeting Anne gave me a purpose in swimming again. Her accomplishment was just as much mine. She helped resurrect my own love for training and racing. I could see her grow and change by the week. She essentially became a machine within a few months. Every challenge I threw at Anne was met head on with an absolute refusal to quit. It became a complete team effort and we had a very good connection with each other.
"There was a chemistry that would be hard to duplicate with anyone else," Chris continued. "She showed me that she can handle anything that is thrown her way. However, she realized that the effort that goes into something like what she did doesn't come for free. Many people are in love with the idea of swimming the English Channel, but don't realize the amount of preparation that goes into it. Anne understood what it would take and her results were a result of her superior attitude and preparation."
Derks was featured in Kast-A-Way Swimwear's 2008 Summer Catalog and received a Kast-A-Way merchandise credit for this honor. He lives in Irving, Texas.
For the past 30 years, Kast-A-Way Swimwear has sponsored hundreds of swimming meets, coaches and clinics in the State of Ohio and around the United States. Kast-A-Way was the first national sponsor of United States Masters Swimming. With retail operations in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Raleigh and Columbus, Ohio, as well as a full service Internet operation, Kast-A-Way Swimwear supplies swimsuits, accessories and equipment to swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming teams, aqua fitness enthusiasts and triathletes across the United States.