January 29, 2021
NAC Masters: Wes Keegan
How did you end up at NAC? In Nashville?
We moved to Nashville in 2014 and I was looking to get back into swimming regularly. I was really big into mountain biking in CA but didn't like the trails here and the streets are a death trap. So, I thought swimming was going to be better to put back into my routine.
I joined NAC, loved it, loved the coach, then work got in the way. We opened the doors at TailGate Brewery in West Nashville, and I was suddenly working way too much to carry a routine. Over the next 5 years I was off and on at different pools. Eventually, I got into power lifting - got really strong, and really fat doing that. More than anything I was hurt all the time. I wanted something low impact where I wouldn't immobilize myself every 3 months and could be leaner. In late 2019 I came back to NAC and after months of drowning, was able to make it through a workout!
What is your swimming background?
I started swimming at 11 years old with a local, summer rec team. I swam rec on the summers, swam varsity in high school, head coached said rec team, and was an ocean lifeguard in San Diego through college.
At eleven years old, mom thought I was fat, and the speedo-briefs agreed. After trying a few practices, I realized I was fast for my age group, and being competitive by nature, I figured the speedo was worth it. I played different sports year-round and the closest serious, competitive team was an hour away. So, swimming became my Spring/Summer sport through high school. I swam varsity all four years of high school and had a choice to swim in college. Unfortunately, I chose football at San Diego State.
When football didn't pan out, I stayed at SDSU but just became a gym rat. One day my roommate who had never swam in his life said he was going to try out to be an ocean lifeguard. I was putting myself through school, running a bar, and did weekdays at the Best Buy geeksquad. Lifeguarding sounded dangerous and stupid, so naturally I was in. At least I'd go try out. I hadn't swum in months, never swam open water, and it was February - so I was in no condition to pass the qualifier. I passed, was hired on the spot, and my roommate did not. I spent the next 3.5 years on the beaches of San Diego, and that roommate eventually became a Navy Seal. So, I think he's the better swimmer today.
Tell us about your family?
It's just me, my beautiful wife, and our new puppy Kevin ("Kevin's a girl??"Think about Russell saying that from the movie "Up") we recently adopted from Nashville Humane. I'm so fortunate that my wife and I can work together every day. After 10 years of corporate life and moonlighting in our taprooms - she made the plunge to join us at TailGate Brewery and now she runs any all admin/logistics. I know it's not for everyone, but I love working with my wife.
What gets you up every morning and to the pool? What drives you to jump in every day?
The relentless pursuit of obesity. Immortality. General health and wellbeing. Physical appearance. All of the above right?
The big reason is, I'm better at my job when I take care of myself. And I absolutely have to be great at my job every day. I need to sleep right. I need to eat right. And I need to exercise. I'm the sole owner of a pretty diverse business that runs from 5am - 11pm every day. If I'm not at the top of my game at all times, I'm letting people around me down.
Swimming with masters is just carrying a consistent, challenging routine - that I do nothing to prepare for? That's invaluable. All I have to do is show up and work hard. I can do that.
How has your life (exercise, work, life, etc.) been affected by COVID-19? How has it changed you?
Honestly, these shorter practices are better for me! Work demands so much, all the time that the ability to get in, rip 2,500ish yards in no more than an hour, and go about my day? Sublime! I feel normal in an abnormal world.
What does swimming bring to you during this crazy time?
Consistency. When we shut down, I ran every day. I'm a simple creature of habit. I need something to keep me moving. To get my brain turning. I hate running so the ability to be in the water is so, so appreciated! A lot of pools in a lot of cities aren't open at all. We are all SO lucky to be swimming right now.
How important is NAC and Ashley to your well-being? What is your goal in the pool
The ability to do zero thinking but just get in the water is next level value. Workouts are written for us. Coaches guide us through the sets. They coach us as much or as little as we want it. I mean, I literally do zero thought. I just get in.
Ashley is the absolute, f*#cking best. I think a lot of people at NAC don't realize how good we have it. Ashley is always on. Always! She's emotionally stable, consistent, and available. In my world that skillset is invaluable. And it's so painfully rare. I am so lucky to have that seven minutes away from my front door. And it's 100% due to Ashley. I especially appreciate that any given day she can smoke anyone in the pool. She's a total stud and it's just not appreciated enough.
Tell me something folks may not know about you?
I'm not a "natural" at anything. Absolutely everything comes hard to me. It sucks. But I'm excellent at practice!
Any fun anecdotes from days at the pool? Now or as a kid?
I took over as Head Coach of the summer rec team that I competed with when I turned 18. We went from 150 kids ages 4 - 18, to almost 250 in one year! We all had so much fun! Swimming at that level should be fun. It should be something we love to do. We had some incredibly fast swimmers and won a lot of meets. I don't know if I made those Rockstar swimmers any better but for the goal of a summer rec league to grow and have fun? We killed it!
Who or what has made the biggest impact on your life?
Boy that's a heavy question. Here's a lighthearted answer: Whoever taught me to circle swim and share a lane. What an art! Knowing when to turn my breaststroke kick into a dolphin kick as I pass someone in my lane. Tightening my freestyle so I don't KO my friend next to me. Adjusting to 1 arm butterfly to pass a butterflier. Finding my correct place in a circle swim group. Just truly *chefs kiss* type stuff. Thank that coach that made me a better lane mate!
I'm having a lot of fun! My Instagram handle is @wes_from_tailgate