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More Senior Olympic Gold Ahead for Tulsa Attorney David Carson

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More Senior Olympic gold ahead
Tulsa Business Journal Staff
12/7/2009

Dave Carson thought he had won his division in the 2009 National Senior Games.

The 87-year-old Tulsa attorney turned in a time of 2:11.30 in the 100-meter event, which was held in San Francisco at the end of August.

Instead, he placed fourth in the nation in the 85-89-year-old division. He was bested during the next two days of competition.

“Some guy from Germany beat me,” Carson said. “I didn’t get a chance to swim against him, and I always do better in actual competition.”

He said the competition extended to three days because there were so many entries.

Carson might have been disappointed in his national placing, but he still was proud of his accomplishment and knew he represented Oklahoma well.

Now he looks forward to the 2011 competition, fully confident he will do better.

“I will compete in Cincinnati in the 85-89-year-old division — if I am still around in 2011,” he said. “I will be 89 that year.”

Although the Tulsa swimmer didn’t get the gold in California, he returned to Tulsa and in October did the State Senior Olympics, where he added four gold medals and state championships to his collection.

Carson started swimming competitively in 1987 and has been involved every year since.

He found himself at his first meet in St. Louis, where he competed in the freestyle and backstroke events. Then he went to San Antonio; Roanoke, Va.; Norfolk, Va.; and Louisville, Ky.

“I was getting first place in Oklahoma and running out of competitors because they were getting old,” Carson said. “At 81, I was beating younger swimmers in the 50-meter breaststroke event in 2003 with a time of 117.37 seconds. My time in the 50-meter freestyle event was 51.15 seconds.

“My opponents were 75, 69 and 61 years old.”

Qualifying for the 2009 nationals in Oklahoma City, Carson swam the 100-meter freestyle in 2:22 for first-place honors. He swam the 200-meter freestyle in 5:33.07 for high honors as well and completed the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 15:12.31.

Carson has always liked swimming, even though he didn’t compete in either high school or college.

The Bloomington, Ill., native joined the Marine Corps during World War II and was sent to Paris Island, S.C.

He was attached to the Air Corps Attack Torpedo Squadron in San Diego, but before he completed his training, the destroyer base moved out.

Carson was then sent to Cherry Point, S.C., where someone found out he could type, so he was not allowed another assignment.

A law career might seem unlikely for Carson, considering both his father and grandfather were Baptist ministers. He was attracted to the legal profession, though, and completed his studies in 1950 at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.

Carson became acquainted with former Republican leader Bob Dole, who was two years behind him in law school. Carson said they have remained friends to this day.

He said he used to chide Dole because he was allowed to vocally record his answers on exams, as a result of losing the use of his arm after being injured in combat in Germany.

“I have always told Bob that I could have made 100 percent on my exam if I didn’t have to write the answers,” Carson said.

After graduation, Carson practiced law in Pittsburgh, Kan., and Wichita, Kan., before moving to Tulsa in 1981. He had a general practice early in his career and tried both civil and criminal cases.

He also did damage claims for State Farm Insurance and still agrees to help with such work if he is needed.

“My last jury trial was before Judge Jane Wiseman,” he said.

It was April 19, 1995, and the jury had heard about the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City. From their jury box in the Tulsa County Courthouse, they could see people exiting the Tulsa Federal Building.

The local practice included his son, Russell; brother, Kainor; and wife, Beverly, in the law firm Carson, Carson & Carson.

Although he is somewhat retired, he still handles some legal work.

Carson also does some pro-bono work for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. At 87, he probably is one of the oldest attorneys involved with the organization, he said.

“I currently am working on a pro-bono divorce case,” he said.

Continuing Legal Education courses are not a requirement because of his age, but Carson attends sessions anyway because they help him stay on top of changes in law as he continues to practice.

As a young lawyer, Carson focused on raising a family and didn’t have time for swimming. But he knew he would someday.

When he heard about the Oklahoma Senior Olympics being organized in 1987, he got involved in the swimming competition.

“I was winning every race I was in,” he said. “I was ready for the challenge.”

That challenge continues today. Carson said he still enjoys the competitive atmosphere.

He admitted to being a bit unsteady and needing assistance as he walks to the blocks at the edge of the pool.

Once in place, however, he is ready for the gunshot.

Life for Carson hasn’t been without its health problems. Carson has had a knee replacement and four vertebrae replaced in his neck. After the surgeries, he had to wait a few months to compete again.

Travel plans have been made for a trip to the continent down under.

In late December he is going to Australia to see two great-grandsons and plans to swim there.

Swimming in the ocean will be different because salt water is more bouyant than tap water, Carson said.

He attributes his longevity to his love of swimming.

“I had a pool at every house I owned and would swim every day,” he said. “Keeping the body in shape has quite a bit to do with good health.”

Training is part of Carson’s routine. He swims 20 lengths of a 25-meter pool for 500 meters three times a week.

It’s been a habit he has developed over the years.

A person can have good or bad habits, he said. Once a good habit is developed, it is easy to maintain.

One good habit he has developed is being a member of a group known as Roosters. The group helps the Rev. Jim Miller, First Presbyterian Church senior minister, prepare his weekly sermon.

We are called Roosters, Carson said, because we get to the church at 8:30 a.m. every Saturday.

With all of his local activities, his primary focus always drifts back to his next goal, winning his division in the 2011 Olympics.

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