Master of his domain

Many can say they are the fastest on their team.

Some can say they are the fastest in their town, state or even country.

But only a select few can say they are the fastest in the world.

North Whidbey Masters swimmer Harvey Prosser, 76, is one of those who can lay claim to such a prestigious title.

In 2004 Prosser was ranked top in the world in the 1,500 meter freestyle for men aged 75-79 and is on his way to doing so again in 2005. His metric-mile time of 26 minutes, 53.03 seconds was a 23 second improvement from his mark a year before, which was the second fastest in the world.

Although honored by his top ranking, Prosser remained fairly modest when speaking about it.

“There isn’t really anybody in my age group that’s stupid enough to swim the 1,500,” he said, jokingly. “It’s a nice honor, but it’s not as if you were competing against a lot of people.”

Prosser’s teammates were quick to butt in.

“Don’t let Harvey’s modesty throw you off,” Joy Thompson said. “He’s an awesome swimmer with amazing accomplishments.

I swim next to him over here as I watch him go shooting by. He’s a great role model for all us young folks.”

Prosser is the senior member of the 20-member North Whidbey team.

During his 18 years as an Oak Harbor resident and North Whidbey Master member, Prosser has done the same impressive routine five days a week, swimming about 2,000 meters, or a mile and a half each day.

He continues to overcome several obstacles, including battling a bad back he injured in his younger days ejecting from a plane at 600 mph.

“He has been an inspiration to me because he’s at practice consistently and never capitulates to the various afflictions that most of us let intrude,” head coach Neil Romney said.

Over the last 60 years of swimming some of Prosser’s most memorable moments in the water have included competing for West Point Military Academy 400 freestyle relay team in the 1947 NCAA championships, beating the Navy swim team on the road and participating in the La Jolla open water swim.

Prosser, who is also world ranked in the 200 butterfly and 400 individual medley, said he plans to continue with the sport as long as he can.

“Swimming is great,” he said. “It’s good exercise and it’s low impact so you don’t have to worry about getting a sore hip, a sore knee or anything like that.”

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