Sue Gray: UVAC Masters Swimmer

When did you join Masters Swimming, and why?

I’m not sure of the date, or even the year. It was about six years ago. UVAC was running a “bring a friend” event. Susan Reid, a friend at work, poked and prodded, then maybe even threatened me, somehow—as only someone who knows you well is able to do. Lucky for me.

After day one, meeting Barbara, and realizing how good it felt to be in the water, I became a regular. I joined the less-experienced Masters at the far end of the pool taking the technique classes. I learned more in a few months than in the time I spent in the pool during high school.

Photo credit of swimmers: Barbara Hummel

What is your swimming background?

I went through the Red Cross swimming progression at the local downtown Erie, Pennsylvania YWCA. I eventually joined the Y’s synchronized swimming team, the Aquadettes (remember, this was 1968-ish). I went on to swim a bit in high school, but I quit after realizing that I liked practice, but hated competition. 

What is your favorite stroke? Why?

It’s not my fastest, but it’s my favorite because it is still a challenge I may never totally get right: breaststroke.

How do you feel about being part of the UVRays

  • Its great! Barbara is always encouraging, celebrating your little improvements—she is a welcoming presence in the pool. She sets up fun challenges throughout the year, and the interesting practices to keep you coming back.
  • Everyone is always encouraging.
  • You get the best advice in the locker room.
  • You meet a lot of great people—for instance the person conducting this interview—in the pool.
  • And you can go out to breakfast after Saturday practice without feeling guilty.

Do you think life in the pool relates to life on the outside in any way? If so, explain. 

It is focused time on a skill that you can see tangible improvement in. You just end up feeling stronger and healthier. I am in better cardio shape now than I was in my twenties when I was cooking in restaurants. Some days, the pool is calming after waking up to the news on NPR, and some days it is exhilarating when you swim a personal best.

What do you do professionally? 

I’m the Director of Research and Development at King Arthur Flour, so I eat a lot of baked goods. 

How long have you been in the Upper Valley? What brought you here?

Thirty-five years. I moved here for my husband’s job.

Who’s in your family?

My husband of 39 years, Mike, and two daughters: Hillary, who is pregnant with our first grandchild (due in July) and Kelly, who recently moved back to the East Coast. They are now both in Boston.

Photo: Sue, far left, with daughters, Kelly (middle) and Hillary.

Do you have pets? 

A 17-year-old cat, Bella, and 15-year old dog, Hendrix.

Anything else you’d like to add about yourself or any thoughts you’d like to share? 

The Upper Valley is lucky to have UVAC.

Interview by Masters swimmer, Liz Kelsey


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