Artesia man wins US Masters Swimming event |  Local Sports

Artesia man wins US Masters Swimming event | Local Sports

James Vaughan, a 75-year-old Artesia veteran, won the Men’s 200-yard Medley Relay at the US Masters Swimming 2022 Spring Nationals event in San Antonio, Texas back in late April.

A Vietnam War veteran, Vaughan was deployed in October 1968 and was in Vietnam until November 1969 with the First Reconnaissance Battalion of the United States Marine Corps.

After the war, Vaughan went to Northern Michigan University to get his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education while playing basketball. After college, he re-enlisted to become a captain and stayed with the USMC for another 10 years.

Vaughan also worked in the US Border Patrol and was stationed all over the United States. He also taught physical training and defense tactics at the US Immigration Officer Academy in Artesia.

Once he realized his love for swimming during his days as a trainer, Vaughan began to put in effort on his own physical training for athletic events like triathlons.

Vaughan started swimming with the Colorado Masters Swimming club back in 2012 and has competed in at least four US Masters Swimming events, twice in San Antonio.

People come from all over the United States to compete. In the 2022 USMS Spring Event, there were 1,810 swimmers that entered, and 267 teams represented.

“These are probably the best swimmers in the US,” Vaughan said. “These are national swim champions. They even have some former Olympians who are older that continue training and competing.”

The USMS events are held all over the United States. The 2022 Summer National Championship will be held in Richmond, Virginia, in early August.

Vaughan competed in the USMS event in San Antonio before, but he and his colleagues came in second.

Vaughan’s teammate and later USMS record-holder of the 100-meter butterfly, Richard Abrahams, called Vaughan asking him to team up for the 200-yard relay. Vaughan, Abrahams and two other Colorado Masters swimmers came in first place in that event.

Beyond swimming, Vaughan is an avid athlete. At 75 he wakes up early to run and would frequent the local recreation centers in Artesia and Roswell to swim.

New Mexico Military Institute Cross-Country head coach Jan Olesinski has trained with Vaughan during his preparations for the USMS National Championships.

“He asked me to see if I can coach him,” Olesinski said. “We swim and we went to the championship. It was fun and a good experience.”

Olesinski said that Vaughan was a “tough customer” and that everything has to be organized in his own way.

“With me, he’s very nice so I don’t have problems coaching him,” Olesinski said. “Everything must be organized. He’s very disciplined and takes time to prepare for whatever he is doing. He’s tough. From the coaching standpoint, I don’t have any problems with him.”

Vaughan also enjoys mountain biking in various areas in New Mexico, including the Skidmarks trail at Bottomless Lakes.

Sports reporter Blynn Juliano Beltran can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or

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