It's not the medals or a personal best time that Trent Shepard swims for in the Gay Games. It's the cause.
Shepard, 58, is single, retired and now living in New Zealand, but he will be back living in Urbana in the spring. And next summer, he will be in Cologne, Germany for Gay Games VIII. Shepard has competed in the last four Gay Games: New York, Amsterdam, Sydney and Chicago.
"My main goal [ in Cologne ] is to be effective at helping run the swimming meet. I worked with registration [ in ] Chicago and am already on the crew list of the Cologne meet director," Shepard said. "The Gay Games are the only master's meets I've ever competed in. I'm not in it to win, or for a personal best time, but to be part of an event I believe in.
"I really enjoyed helping run the [ 2006 Gay Games ] swimming event, being at the pool every day, and meeting so many wonderful swimmers. One of the swimmers who had registration problems and needed lots of attention became a very close friend. He, his partner, and I have spent time together in New Zealand, my Illinois home, and at their home in Michigan. We're friends for life."
More about Trent Shepard:
High school: Bloomington High School, Class of 1969; lettered in swimming
College: University of Illinois, Class of 1973
Hobbies: Gardening and card playing
Superstitions: "Can't think of even one."
Little-known fact, skill or trait: "One gross one: I can put both big toes in my mouth at once."
Greatest sporting accomplishment: "Riding my bicycle from the west coast to the East Coast."
Favorite sports team: University of Illinois rugby team
Favorite pro athlete: "Don't pay much attention to the pros."
It's a fact: "Although I seldom practice with my master's team, the Smelts, I have enjoyed a few events I've been part of and participating under the Smelts name at the Gay Games. Just swam laps [ recently ] in a 33 1/3 yard pool in New Zealand. I've also swum laps a few times in a 150-yard pool in Vancouver. Each length goes on forever."