Alexandria native Luke Vestrum does not devote the same time to swimming as he did back in college.
After all, the 1999 Jefferson High School graduate spent four seasons as a collegiate swimmer at St. John’s University and was one-fourth of an All-American 200-yard freestyle relay team in 2002.
However, even with a full-time job and a family, Vestrum still gets at least three nights per week in the pool.
“I pretty much train independently,” Vestrum said. “Just with my schedule and two kids, it’s really hard to find a team that practices when it works for me and my job.”
Vestrum, now 34, lives in St. Paul with his wife and fellow JHS graduate Jill Vestrum, formerly Jill Brueske. The couple has two kids, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, and Vestrum is employed as an account director at a digital agency.
His competitive nature has kept Vestrum in the sport, and now he is making the trip to San Antonio, Texas to compete alongside nearly 2,000 swimmers at the Nationwide U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championships this Friday through Sunday.
He is coming into the meet with some of the fastest seed times of events in the 30 to 34 age group, including the second-fastest in both the 50-yard butterfly and 50 backstroke. This means he will be swimming against some of the fastest swimmers, including former Olympic gold-medalist Matt Grevers.
A total of 11 former Olympians plan to compete at nationals.
“Everyone in the pool will be watching those swims, and I will be in the lane next to Matt Grevers for two of those,” Vestrum said. “Like literally next to him. I think every serious swimmer has dreams of going to the Olympics. I never did that, but at least I will have the chance to swim against an Olympian.”
Vestrum will be swimming in seven events total, including five as an individual. The other two are relays he is doing with a few St. John’s alumni and other regional swimmers. One of the St. John’s alumnus swimming in those relays is Jim Arnold, who was not only part of the 2002 All-American 200-yard freestyle team, but also the best man at Vestrum’s wedding.
Vestrum plans to be among the more competitive swimmers at nationals, but the event draws swimmers from all different skill levels. In fact, entrants can swim up to three events without a qualifying time.
“You see everything, from the weekend warrior to people who just graduated college to Olympic gold medalists,” Vestrum said. “That’s what makes the environment fun. You can take it as seriously as you want, swim against some of the best swimmers in history, or swim your own race and have a good time with a great community of people.”
Vestrum has found the time to continue swimming thanks to a local YMCA that is open late into the evening. After the kids are put to bed at 8 p.m., he can quickly slip off to the YMCA and get a workout in at the pool or lift weights to work on strength.
If he can find the time, why not continue swimming?
“I just haven’t got to a point now where I feel like I am ready to retire,” Vestrum said. “It’s just fun. I feel like it’s a great community of people. It’s good for me. If I am going to be working out I might as well do it in the sport I love. And I am still competitive, so that helps.”
While Vestrum continues to work swimming into a busy lifestyle, it is clear that he is not ready to retire. He even hopes to someday attend a world championship masters swimming event in the future.
“I have no plans on stopping,” Vestrum said. “Until the fun is done, I’m going to stay in the pool as long as I can.”