The first men's swimmer to be inducted into the Keene State College Alumni/ Athletic Hall of Fame, Carl Arlig made a splash in the Spaulding Gym pool that can still be felt today.
Twenty-two years since he last stepped out of the pool, Arlig's marks in five events, including his All-America race in the 400-freestyle relay, still stand as records that future Keene State swimmers have strived to surpass.
"I couldn't believe it when they told me those records still exist," said Arlig, who swam for the Owls during the 1972-76 seasons. "I guess you could say I left my mark at the pool."
It took a while before Arlig, a native of Holyokc, Mass., found his water wings. "In high school I watched the fastest swimmer and copied his stroke," admitted Arlig, who credits his dad, Carl, for being a good "swim dad" and attending many of his meets. Improving every season, Arlig set state (Mass.) records in the 200- and 400-freestyle events as he prepared to make some waves at Keene State College.
One of a handful of top-quality national caliber recruits brought to the College by Jim Quirk, a former KSC physics professor who started the Owls' swim program, Arlig made an immediate impact as a freshman, helping KSC to a 17-1 dual meet record and placing third in the 500-yard race at the New England Championships. It was the first of his four appearances at the Championships, where Arlig made a name for himself in mid-distance and relay events.
"Carl had the ability to endure a lot of practice and a good deal of pain," said Quirk, who led Keene State to two top-ten finishes at the New Englands. "He was strongly disciplined and knew what it took to be successful, fie was a major part of our success and was a great young man."
Arlig swam for three different coaches during his KSC career; each one played a role in his improvement. "Coach Quirk helped a lot with stroke technique, Coach (Peier) Plant's strength was his interval training, and Coach (William) Papajohn just busted our butts," said Arlig with a smile.
In an era where basketball dominated the pages of the Equinox winter sports section, Arlig along with his swim teammates gave people on campus a reason to venture down the second floor corridor of Spaulding Gym to the pool. Facing top competition from colleges in all three New England divisions, the Owls had fine dual meet seasons on the way to tapering for the New Englands. "Winning was a major incentive for us," said Arlig. "It made the hours of practice worth it."
Earning a berth in the NCAA Division II Championships every year, Arlig completed his Owl career in style by joining teammates David Hague, Newell Roberts, and Dan Carson in swimming to All-America honors with their 11th-place finish in the 400-freestyle relay at the Championships.
Graduating in 1976 with a degree in biology, Arlig feels the discipline from swimming carried over to his success in the classroom. "I learned you can't wait to the last minute to get the job done," he said. "You might as well dive right in and take care of business."
Having traveled as many miles around the country over the years as he had compiled laps in the pool, Arlig now lives with his wife, Victoria, and children, Luis, Veronica, Tyler, and Christopher, in Tuscon, Ariz., where he works as a computer support engineer.