MOUNT VERNON — “You’ve had a heart attack.”
These are words nobody ever wants to hear from the doctor. Mount Vernon resident Hank Antill heard those fateful words several years ago. One angioplasty and one pacemaker later, Antill knew the warranty on his heart had run out.
Despite the best medicine and treatment, there is probably nothing in his post-coronary regimen that has been of greater benefit to Antill than one item – water. The 74-year-old Antill is a prolific lap swimmer who recently eclipsed the 2,000 mile mark.
“I started swimming in 1994 after my heart attack,” said Antill, who swims at the Mount Vernon YMCA three times per week. “They said exercise, and my best exercise was swimming.”
The waters have been relatively calm for Antill for the past few years. But before that, recovery had been anything but smooth sailing.
“I had open-heart surgery in 2004 and a pacemaker two years ago,” said Antill. “Right now, I’m doing great.”
Antill has been married for 46 years to his wife, Dee Dee, who has worked at Wise LP Gas for the past 36 years. They have a daughter, Holly, and two grandchildren — Dylan (currently in college) and Jordan, who is a senior at the Career Center.
Antill’s love of swimming goes back to the late 1940s, when he started swimming lessons as a child at the YMCA. He remembers those days.
“I went through all of the classes there in 1947, ’48, ’49 and ’50,” said Antill. “Not at this (current) building, but at the old one.”
Antill served in the US Navy in the late 1950s until the early 1960s, spending a year and a half stationed in the Mediterranean. The Navy was well-suited to his swimming skills, which would become quite apparent to his squad leaders.
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