Faculty Profile Kayo Ogilby

by Allison Johnson

Competitive swimming might not seem like a natural pursuit for an adult living in the mountains of Colorado, but longtime CRMS teacher Kayo Ogilby has not only returned to a beloved sport from his youth but also clocked in with such impressive results that he’s headed to the World Masters Swimming Championships in both open water and pool events.

Ogilby, who has been teaching at CRMS for nearly two decades and is chair of the science department, grew up in Vail, Colorado, where he participated in summer swim teams and followed his father around to masters swimming competitions.

“Swimming has always been an appealing sport to me and an athletic discipline that I loved,” he says. “My grandfather and father were both swimmers, and it created a special connection, but it was always something we just dabbled in as kids because we were pursuing other interests.”

After a short stint on a swim team in college, he didn’t return to the sport until his 30s when middle age aches and pains began to set in. He also was intrigued by the idea of an aerobic athletic endeavor that required training, and he began to swim three days a week.

Alumnus Jon Birzon introduced Ogilby to open water swimming when, as a 9th grader at CRMS, he invited Kayo to join his family on an annual swim from Alcatraz Island to the mainland. “My first response was hell no! But I did it. I went with him and his family, and I was just blown away. It was so cool and beautiful.”

Ogilby had to put in miles of training to overcome a longstanding fear of swimming in dark water. He also had to learn critical new skills like “sighting,” or the ability to look up and adjust where one is going without losing the continuity of the stroke. Ogilby did the swim three times with Birzon and then again with Birzon’s sister Katie and his own daughter and niece.

This year Ogilby took open-water swimming to the next level by training for a rigorous 12-mile competition around Key West. He modestly says he was pleasantly surprised to come in second place among 100 solo swimmers.

While Ogilby loves the challenge of open-water distance swims and the chance to witness beautiful landscape and water topography, he’s also met with success in more traditional swimming venues after realizing he could swim in masters events alongside his daughters’ swim-club team. Instead of standing around watching them, he began – with their blessing – using his daughter’s meets to get back in the pool competitively himself.

His efforts paid off this year. At his second state masters championship, Ogilby won the mile and the 200-free events and came in second in all the others. Those times qualified him for the World Masters Championship, which took place in Budapest in August. He competed in an open-

water swim as well as the 800 free, 400 IM, 200 free, 200 IM and the 100 butterfly on August 11-17, where he placed 33rd, 16th, 13th, 20th, 26th, and 33rd respectively.

Ogilby attributes his recent success to training, his family’s support, and the companionship of remarkable coaches in the community. CRMS has played a role as well, and he hopes students will see that faculty are as keen as students to keep pushing themselves and taking risks.

“There’s an important culture at CRMS of going for it and living fully and completely,” he says. “The culture of CRMS is infectious and it may be the very reason why I felt inspired to do this in the first place.”

Ogilby isn’t sure what the future has in store for him. He might decide to pursue other interests like returning more regularly to his bluegrass band, but either way it’s been an exciting ride. “Seeing what has been possible, it gives you the bug, so we’ll see where this all goes.”

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