SOUTH PORTLAND – Kevin Crowley has had ankle surgery, followed by back surgery, since his last trip to the world swimming championships in 2006.

Back then, Crowley competed in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter breast stroke. He also took part in the 400-meter medley relay.

Overcoming his injuries and swimming in a more unique venue — the 2006 event was at Stanford University — makes this year’s trip even more special.

Crowley, who lives in South Portland, is a 46-year-old respiratory therapist at Maine Medical Center.

He will represent the United States in the age 45-49 division at this year’s world championships from July 30-Aug. 7 in Gothenberg, Sweden.

“The international stage is always a thrill,” he said. “To be in an environment when you are able to see some of the best swimmers come together to compete in one body of water is pretty impressive.”

Crowley, an active member of the Maine Masters Swim Club, USA Swimming and US Masters Swimming, said he’s fortunate to have that opportunity. He said his joy isn’t to win medals or ribbons, but simply to make the trip.

“I do it to be able to do it. To be 46 years old, to get in the pool and go to venues to swim with some of the greatest,” said Crowley, who will compete in the 100-meter breast stroke. “Going to Sweden is my medal.”

Crowley grew up in Scarborough, and as a baby was introduced by his father to swimming at the Old Orchard Beach outdoor YMCA pool.

“My dad was a big fan of the water,” Crowley said.

Crowley always loved the water, but discovered he also loved to compete when he started swimming for Pine Tree Swimming at age 7.

After college, Crowley’s focus changed, but he never abandoned the water.

“I continued to swim but I didn’t compete,” Crowley said. “But once I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, I missed (competitive swimming).”

His return began about 10 years ago when someone at the pool told him he should resume competing.

“I thought I was too old but I wasn’t,” Crowley said. “I did a little investigating, and that’s how I got involved with Maine Masters.”

In the last 21/2 years, Crowley has been competing more with his health than other swimmers.

“It’s a good group of guys and girls (in the Maine Masters). We encourage each other and that’s how we improve,” Crowley said. “Family and friends are my team, and I couldn’t do it without them. Without them I would have hung up the goggles.”

Crowley said he can’t thank his co-workers enough for supporting him from the start.

“I am fortunate to work in a large department. They are a great crew, tremendous professionals, excellent caregivers and friends. They have been a great support to me. The entire hospital staff has been,” he said.

“Every day I come to work, I hear supportive comments. You can’t do it without that.”

Staff Writer Austin Pollack can be contacted at 791-6384 or at:

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