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Swim Like a Rogue; Swim Like a Salmon

How a friendly Rivalry between Rogues turned into an epic Swim Meet.


Just before 7pm, a gaggle of fully dressed people crowded onto one side of the PSU Rec Center pool. The Rocky theme played, a tall guy in cut-off jean shorts and a yellow swim cap walked out to the Laverne & Shirley theme song followed by a guy in an eagle mask, to “You’re the Best Around” from the Karate Kid soundtrack.

Ryan Connell entered the pool area to “You’re the Best Around” by Joe Esposito.
Ryan Connell entered the pool area to “You’re the Best Around” by Joe Esposito.

What unassuming onlookers didn’t know: this was a face off two years in the making. Maybe more.

Rogue sales manager John Kathman, a former All-American athlete and Division 1 simmer at Loyola University Chicago (who hadn’t swam in 23 years but had smoked 146,000 cigarettes), and his boss, Ryan Connell, a former X-Games rollerblader were finally settling a rivalry in the pool.

After the event, John’s cut-off jean shorts were framed for him.
After the event, John’s cut-off jean shorts were framed for him.

“Ryan was busting my chops for over a year about how great an athlete he is and that I’m outta shape,” John explained.

As Ryan tells it: “After months of running my mouth about swimming faster than Kathman, we decide to race.”

John Kathman finishes his 8th lap.
John Kathman finishes his 8th lap.

John agreed to two unusual conditions: He was only allowed to train three times leading up to the event and he would wear cut off jean shorts during the race.

At stake: a whole, fresh-cut salmon for the winner.

At “Go,” the competitors were both in the pool and John had a full body-length lead right away, using flip turns to keep his momentum going.

“I knew the race was over the first time John passed me going the other direction,” Ryan later conceded. “I think he has webbed feet.”

The race lasted eight laps and John finished with a time of 2:22 while Ryan followed 27 seconds behind. Even while coming out ahead, John said he was “disappointed I went so slow.”

John kisses the salmon he won.
John kisses the salmon he won.

Ryan, on the other hand, explains, “That was a personal best time, so I’m pleased with my performance.”

Asked if he’d be up for a rematch, John, cradling his giant salmon, declared, “I’m game.”