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December 5, 2012
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Nine-year-old joins 50-mile club at Breck Rec

There's a board on the wall of the pool deck at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. It's white and it's filled with names and numbers.

Some names have the number 200 next to them. That stands for 200 miles swam - a feat typically achieved by adults, many of whom are super athletes and triathletes who train at the rec center.

Now, one name stands out on the board.

Nine-year-old Joey Hodge swam his 3,600th length of the 50-yard pool Tuesday night to complete his 50-mile quest.

"He has been on the swim club at the (rec center) for a few years," his father Gregg Hodge, said. "He noticed (the white board) ... and decided he wanted to get on the 'swim board.'"

Coach Larken Petardi offered to help, but first, she explained how big a commitment and effort it is to swim so far. Joey insisted - and added that he wanted to do it while he was still nine years old - and the quest began.

"According to the staff at the rec center, no other child at the age of 9 has ever swam 50 miles in Summit County," Hodge said. "Joey would be the first."

It didn't come without sacrifice, Joey's father said.

"There were many days when Joey's friends were playing baseball out in the street and Joey did not want to go swim another mile. But he did. The determination that Joey showed as a 9 year old was commendable. He wanted to achieve the goal that he set for himself. He was self-motivated to make that happen," Gregg Hodge said.

Several parents noticed that Joey was swimming to reach 50 miles. It also inspired three of the current swimmers on the swim team to attempt the feat.

"Joey has been a great inspiration for our swim team and for our program," Petardi said. "Samantha Hessel, PK Vincze and Mike Thebeau have all started their 'card' and are on the road to swimming 50 miles themselves. They watched Joey accomplish this goal and it encouraged them to set their own goals. It has been fun to watch the kids believe that they can do something they never thought they could do."

For Joey, who's itching with excitement, "It's great that other kids are trying to swim 50 miles. I know they can do it. I am now going to set my next goal to swim 100 miles. All the lifeguards at the rec center have been super. They have all helped me. They are now all my friends. I love the Breckenridge rec center."

Hodge is just happy for his son, and excited he's become a leader on the swim team, which has been in turn an asset to Joey.

"I hope that all the parents and children in the county look to the rec center to not only teach them how to swim but also to allow them to set their personal goals and then help them achieve those goals," he said.


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The Summit Daily Updated Dec 5, 2012 09:17PM Published Dec 5, 2012 09:16PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.