Ross Simmons – Back in the water for a good cause
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Rancho Bernardan Ross Simmons is proving it is never too late to keep a promise — even made to oneself 28 years ago.
In 1984, Simmons was a University of Southern California band member playing music at the inaugural Swim With Mike swim-a-thon organized to raise money for the USC Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. It is named in honor of a former USC swimming All-American paralyzed in a motorcycle accident.
Simmons, a competitive swimmer as a teen, said he chose to leave the pool after high school and pursue music as his extracurricular activity in college. But through that he learned about and became impressed with SWM and “vowed to come back to raise funds as a swimmer,” he said.
Though it took longer than anticipated, Simmons kept that vow earlier this year by entering SWM’s Masters’ Challenge at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. In April, he raised $1,500 for swimming 5,000 meters (around 3 miles). Due to his fundraising, Simmons qualified for an all-expenses-paid contest that selected swimmers for SWM’s 2.38-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Hawaii on Labor Day. While his airfare and hotel costs are covered, Simmons is trying to raise $5,000 for the cause. He also plans to swim 5 miles in SWM’s Slam the Dam Open Water Swim in Las Vegas in October.
Simmons, who turns 49 next week, returned to the pool in 2010. With his children grown, he was able to focus on swimming regularly, something he did not have time to do when involved with his children’s activities. On many days he swims at the High Country West swimming pool for 30 minutes during his lunch break. It is near his home and law office. Three times a week he participates in 5:30 a.m. U.S. Masters Swimming training sessions at the Rancho Arbolitos pool in Poway and competes in open water swims most weekends.
“It was not so hard coming back (to swimming) as an adult because I have a more mature attitude,” Simmons said. “I’m enjoying the activity. It is peaceful and I can be meditative and reflective. I’m cherishing my time in the water more now than when I was younger.”
Simmons said he enjoys swimming in a pool and open water, the latter requiring more skills due to changing water conditions. “It’s more challenging and exciting,” he said.
When not in the water, he cross trains by bicycling, running and jogging, and has entered a few triathlons.
Though enjoying the challenge of competitive events, Simmons said he enters because of the fundraising. “It’s awkward and difficult to ask people (for donations) due to the difficult economic times … but it is a deserving group.”
Simmons said he is “leading by example” and this is a case of when one has an ability the person should do something good for others.
As for returning to a demanding physical activity after years of being away, Simmons said, “It is never too late. There is nothing more important than making sure one is physically fit and strong.” He added that while some may think it selfish to spend so much time working out, he said it is part of remaining healthy, and staying in shape should be a priority.
For more about the program or to make a donation, go to www.SwimWithMike.org.
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