The Long Swim: Good Times, Good Timing
of the few people
who have tried
to juggle both
has just been
added as an
With Bogue Sound in his backyard, Chip Peterson’s dad
developed an aquatic alternative to walking his yellow Labrador. “Some
people run their dog five miles, I swim my
dog two miles,” Pete Peterson said.
He calls it “the long swim,” and Chip, not
wanting to be left behind, started at about
age 3 clinging to his swimming father’s neck.
That was where the long swim started
for Chip. He graduated to the swim team
at age 5; soon he was swimming competitively, doing his homework in the car traveling to and from pools. He was recruited
to Carolina by Catherine Vogt, assistant
coach of the swimming and diving team
who had coached him in high school.
Now, at 19, Chip Peterson is a world
champion open-water swimmer — racing
for 5 and 10 kilometers in lakes, rivers, rowing basins, channels and oceans. He won the
world championship in the 10-kilometer in
2005, won the silver medal in the 10K and
the gold in the 1,500-meter freestyle at the
Pan-American Games in Brazil in 2007, and
won the 10K open-water swim national
championship in 2005 and 2006 as a member of the U.S. National team.
He does indoor races, too. He was
national champion in the 1,500-meter
freestyle in 2005 and on Carolina’s team
he’s set school records in the 500-, 1,000-
and 1,650-yard freestyle.
“I am one of the few people who is still
trying to concentrate on both at the same
time [juggling indoor and open-water
swimming], which has been pretty interesting, but I’ve done well at both,” he said.
Peterson has raced off Hawaii, in the
Gulf of Mexico, the Guadalajara River in
Spain, the Mediterranean off Naples, and in
Brazil, Ecuador and Canada. Hawaii was his
favorite. “I didn’t see a turtle,” he said, “but
I did see a lot of fish, and I went over a lot
of coral reefs, so it was really pretty.”
He passes the time in the long races by
singing, and he doesn’t just hum one or
two tunes, either. He memorizes entire
CDs. “Actually, I try to get whole CDs
stuck in my head so I don’t have three lines
Peterson continued on page 10
Just as fish swim in
schools, long-distance racers swim in
a pack. Physical contact comes into play,
and races can last
more than two hours.
Peterson’s also at
home in the pool,
where he has set