2018 INDUCTION TO THE RHODE ISLAND AQUATIC HALL OF FAME
Phil Wright is living proof that persistence pays off. Phil, an Optometrist who currently lives in Charlestown, RI is a lifelong swimmer dating back to his days at Tolman High School. The youngest son of Mildred and Gordon Wright, Phil’s success has come as a result of a lifelong dedication to the sport.
Phil has amassed a litany of awards competing at U.S. masters Swimming events, where he was a fixture since its early formative years in the 1970’s and 1980’s, establishing himself as one of the top New England Swimmers in his age group.
Following his standout swimming career at Tolman, Phil matriculated to the University of Rhode Island, which did not field a swim team at the time. In his early adult years, career and children took precedent over the pool.
The water has been a place of comfort for Phil his entire life, and while he was not swimming competitively, he still served as a lifeguard for fifteen (15) years. His years spent patrolling the beach also saw him competing in the annual Rhode Island Lifeguard Competitions.
After a hiatus from competitive swimming of about twenty (20) years, Phil was invited by local swimmers at the South County YMCA to swim with them, submerging him back into the world of competitive swimming. Since 2000, he has competed in countless events and earned accolades with his team on an individual level. His team was undefeated for five years in the mid-size group. His success, and that of his team, led to connection with Swim Rhode Island, another local organization of swimmers competing in USMS events, where they won three New England Championships in the large-team group. In 2013, Phil went to the USMS summer nationals in California, a chance to not only take in one of the most competitive swimming events in the country as a spectator, but also to show off his skills as a swimmer. With one exception, he medaled in each event in which he competed in and enjoyed his best finish, 5th place, in the Men’s (65-69) 100 meter freestyle.
In 2014, Phil traveled to Montreal to compete in the World Masters Swimming Championship, where his best finishes came in the form of a pair 15th place efforts, 50 meter free and 50 meter butterfly.
More swimming and more awards came Phil’s way when he swam at the 2015 YMCA Masters Championships. Among the seven (7) medals earned, the highlight of the meet was a 5th place finish in the 50 yard freestyle. He also took home a 5th place finish in the 50 yard butterfly.
To qualify for the prestigious National Senior Olympics in Minneapolis, Phil competed in various Rhode Island and Connecticut Senior Olympic events, dominating almost every single one he entered winning twenty-two (22) Gold medals and one (1) Silver medal.
In the 2015 National Senor Olympics, Phil, at sixty-seven (67) years old, medaled in every event entered. Among his six awards, he took 5th place in the 100 yard freestyle with a time of 1:03.52, and 5th place in the 100 yard Individual Medley, with a time of 1:09.52.
While his foray into the world of swimming has brought him plenty of attention and awards, for Phil it’s always about exercise. He has persisted doing the things he loves throughout his life and has seen himself rewarded for his determination time and time again.