Jim Bayles ’70, a Masters World Championship swimmer, has swum across the English Channel, around Manhattan, and through the tumultuous current from Cape Cod to Nantucket. A competitive athlete at Williston, and later at Dartmouth College, Mr. Bayles now swims to raise money for charity, namely the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut.
What is your first memory of being in the water?
It was either at a country club or out in a lake in Northern Michigan. Swimming has always been something I enjoyed, even when I wasn’t very good. I just love being in the water.
When did you decide to start swimming competitively again?
I seriously started to swim again at 36. At 40 I swam in the World Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was faster than each of my entry/goal times and I knew I wasn’t going to get any faster so I continued to work out, but I had no real desire to compete in a pool again. Eventually I began to wonder if I could swim a marathon for charity. The first swim I did for charity I raised close to $12,000, and for the past 20 years I’ve continued to swim for causes that are close to me.
What precautions do you take when swimming alone in open water?
A friend of mine gave me an orange buoy that I call my “little lamb.” It’s attached to my waist and floats behind me. I’ve never really felt scared about anything while swimming.
I understand you enjoy PB&J sandwiches while swimming, how do you eat the sandwich without it getting wet?
Very carefully. They hand you a quarter of the sandwich in a plastic bag and you hold the food with one hand while you carefully pull it out with the other, all the while kicking like crazy.
What was it like being coached by Wilmot Babcock?
Having a brother who went to Williston before me, I knew all about him. He was a wonderful coach. A self-taught swimmer and diver, he was trying to do new things in a four lane 25-yard pool with clickity clackity lane lines. Duff Tyler was also my coach; he used to keep track of my times. Williston helped me mature from adolescence into an adult; these men really cared about who we were, and not just in the pool.