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Former Warrenton Mayor Fitch, swimming world record holder?

Thursday, Jul. 3 | By Peter Brewington
The beauty of being mayor is that you can make people happy by issuing proclamations lauding their achievements.

What about issuing a proclamation for your own achievement?

In late May, Warrenton's just-retired mayor George Fitch was part of a local masters swimming team completing a unique event, swimming the 3 x 500 meter non-free medley relay in the combined 180-plus mixed age group.

If you listen to one of the team members, Charlie Tupitza, the event is a world record because it has never been swum before. "These are considered sanctioned, unofficial, unrecognized, non-conforming world records. That is part of the charm," said Tupitza.

No word if they're getting tee-shirts made, contacting the Guinness Book of World Records, or bragging to their friends, but there's no doubt the trio got a workout, with each swimming 500 yards.

Kettle Run High chemistry teacher Julie Dawley swam the breaststroke portion, Tupitza handled the difficult butterfly leg, and Fitch brought it home with the breaststroke.

The accomplishment apparently did not go to Fitch's head, as he came away without a self-inflated view of his swimming ability.

"I swam like a beached whale, a mere shadow of my former prowess at age 25," said Fitch.

This is not an event you see in the Olympics, or even the Senior Olympics, but Tupitza, an organizer for the Warrenton Masters Swim Team, based out of the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility (WARF), has a creative knack for bringing attention to his latest brainchild.

He's pushing a competition called "Butterfly is Not a Crime," which is a distance butterfly swimming for adults. "The Warrenton Masters Swim Club is a relatively small team but we are having an impact on the swimming community across the country," said Tupitza.

Fitch has been a member of the Warrenton Masters Swim Team since the WARF opened. "George is a good swimmer," said Tupitza.

"We intentionally kept the event low key because we didn't want George to get too excited," said Tupitza.

Whether Fitch or his two teammates can be viewed as senior versions of Michael Phelps is a relevant question, as is the idea that they are world record holders.

Says Fitch: "No, I'm not brazen enough to promote this as a world record," he said, adding, "But I guess technically it is."

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