CAMP LESTER, OKINAWA, Japan, Sept. 27, 2002. HOBBIES are common among individuals. Some people collect stamps while others prefer mountain biking. But to earn special recognition for your hobby is something that most strive for.
For Navy Capt. Colin G. Chinn, director of medical services at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and winner of an invitation to the 2002 World Aquathlon, his hobby of swimming has given him new opportunities others may only dream about.
"A lifestyle of excellent fitness is the true reward for keeping active in a sport," said the San Diego native. "I get a great sense of accomplishment knowing that I'm conditioning my body, because it's the only thing that any one takes with them wherever they go."
The World Championship Aquathlon takes place Nov. 3 and gives Chinn another chance to put his skills to the test. "The aquathlon is a swimming and running competition," said Chinn. "It usually starts off with a two and a half kilometer run, followed by a thousand meter swim and then another two and a half kilometer run."
Training for the event puts Chinn on a painstaking schedule. "I spend five days out of every week physically training my body. I run four to five miles and also spend time training in the pool with the Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa Dolphin Swim Team," said Chinn.
For many athletes, the best way to train well is to have a coach advise and assist their training. "Colin is a very talented swimmer," said Chinn's swim coach, Matthew Luebbers. "I can tell that he's definitely serious about it, but he also knows how to balance it into his life so it doesn't consume all of his time."
Luebbers went on to describe what methods work in Chinn's training. "There's no secret to his success. He has just accepted the fact that it takes tremendous effort and hard work to be good at swimming and running."
Everything in life, including sports, needs a starting point. Chinn, who is 44 years old, began swimming competitively at an early age.
"I started swimming at age 11. I eventually grew tired of it and didn't really explore it very much until I went through college. It was there that I joined the water polo team and from there it's been ongoing ever since," said Chinn.
Chinn has competed in several competitions, which include nearly 20 aquathlons. "I've won some and lost some in the past," said Chinn. "I find that they are pretty rare in the States, but over here in Asia they have aquathlons on somewhat of a regular basis."
Chinn also has his own cheering section everywhere he goes. Support from family and friends get him through every competition. "I met my wife, Eiko, through my swimming adventures. Since she shares the same interest as me, the support from her has become a mutual relationship in how we support each other," said Chinn.
"I also get a lot of support from the MCCS Dolphin Swim Team. I think it's one of the best programs around, not just for my needs, but for anyone who enjoys swimming or is learning."