Recently giving birth doesn't slow local swimmer

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Entertainment,Kaitlin Schluter
Margaret Conze was a little bummed when she took second place in a recent "fastest female" swimming competition -- but then again, she just had a baby.

"I just had a baby. My race didn't feel right," she said. "I'm bummed and still a bit bummed and it gets under my skin, but being a good loser is like one the best skills you could ever have."

Still, she placed second with a time of 28.6 seconds.

Within four weeks of the birth of her newborn Gus, the 38-year-old Kensington resident was back in the water. Her doctor advised her to wait six weeks and to take it easy. But she even swam on her due date.

Swimming is a large part of the Conze family, whom she describes as "pretty heavy water people." Her 5-year-old daughter, Maren, can already swim a length. Gus took his first dip in the pool at 16 weeks. Not to mention the pool deck is where Margaret first met her husband, Dietrich, in high school. The two started dating during her senior year at Bucknell University while on the college swim team.

"He totally understands, and we're both supportive of each other's need to exercise," she said, adding that when both need a workout, they call a baby sitter to the pool. Conze competes on the Ward swim club at Georgetown Prep.

She started swimming at a summer club in Connecticut at age 6 and continued competing on her high school team. Conze soon began to enjoy swimming and became "intense about it."

In 1992, Conze competed in the Olympic Trials in college. She competed in the 50-meter freestyle and placed 32 out of 66 overall swimmers. The top two swimmers make the Olympics.

"I was not in danger of making it, but I was just happy to get there," she said.

After college, Conze went on to train with a sport and health club before joining the Ward swim club. She currently competes as a sprinter in the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and 50-meter butterfly.

But Conze said the relays in the masters competitions are her favorite. In these, men and women compete in age groups that are tallied based on the combination of the four swimmers' ages.

She also has competed in the 4.4-mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim five times.

"We drove in to the bridge and I elbowed my friend and said, 'What did you make me do?' " she said, recalling her first Bay Swim, in which about 600 swimmers race across the Bay between the twin bridge spans.

When she's not in the water, Conze is a physical therapist with MZ Physical Therapy Sports Medicine in Montgomery County. But even then, Conze's career and swimming overlap. Conze treats many swimmers, including patients from her team. The typical swimmer injury is rotator cuff tendonitis, she said.

Conze concedes, though, that balancing her schedule is not an easy swim. She said it can be "nutty" at times, but that swimming provides an outlet for the stress.

Conze will compete in a meet at the end of April, but she plans to swim for a long time.

"Until I'm 90," she said. "Until I die."

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