Steve Jones would have given anything for someone to approach him with a video camera. It was the chance of a lifetime; the perfect punch line just waiting to be delivered.
Jones, 34, of Pasadena, had just won another medal in the International Law Enforcement Olympics at the Oak Marr Recreation Center in Oakton, Va. Thatmade three silvers and two bronzes for the veteran Maryland State trooper in his first endeavor at the biennial games.
And this begged the obvious question.
"I wanted someone to come up to me and ask, 'Where are you going now that you've won?'" he said. "I could have told them, 'I'm going to Disney World.'"
He wouldn't be going alone.
Jones had married Susan Brennan on Aug. 1 in Stevensonville, but their honeymoon had to be delayed until after the swimming portion of the Olympics, which began on Tuesday. The couple left for the popular Florida theme park at 7 a.m. Thursday, less than 24 hours after Jones had competed in his final event.
"We had set the wedding date, and then we found out that the Olympics were those days," said Jones, who won silvers in the 100 backstroke, 200 individual medley and 400 freestyle, and took bronzes in the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay. "Luckily, it was early enough that we could swing both things."
And just as luckily, Jones has a wife who shares in his love of the aquatic sport. She has been swimming competitively since age 6, and they both are members of the Severna Park YMCA Masters swim team. They even became engaged while in the water during a national meet in Indianapolis last year.
"She's a much better swimmer than I am," Jones said. "She understands. I didn't have a big argument about having to delay the honeymoon."
Susan said, "People said, 'Geez, you're waiting to go. I said, 'Well, he would do the same for me if I had a meet that I really wanted to go to."
Jones used to be an avid swimmer while attending high school inIowa and junior college in Catonsville. But after graduating from Catonsville in 1983, he slowly got away from the sport.
And his weight rapidly got out of hand.
"I was 212 pounds, but then I lost 47 pounds in five months," said Jones, who stands 6 feet tall. "It all really started when I woke up one morning and decided I was tired of being fat. I knew I used to swim competitively and I knew swimming was good exercise. It all took off from there.
"It was a combination of changing my diet and swimming on a regular basis. I tried to stay away from red meat. And I don't have many bad habits, but I drink soda. I'm a Pepsi-holic. I was able to switch from the regular to the diet.
"Now that I've lost all that weight, I can eat just about everything because I burn off calories swimming every week."
He has jumped back into the water with enormous enthusiasm, even participating in, and completing, the last two Chesapeake Bay swims. Jones estimates that he has logged "something like over 1,000 miles in the last two years."
No wonder he liked his chances in the distance events.
"I'm not a sprinter," he said, "but I knew that my endurance was going to hold up over most other people."
The event featured nearly 200 swimming entrants from such diverse places as Canada, Australia, Bulgaria and New Zealand.
"Last year, I went to the the World Police and Fire Games in Memphis, Tenn., and did fairly well," he said. "But firemen must have a lot more time to train because they got all the top five places and I kept getting sixths, sevenths and eighths. So, I figured when I came to this, there wouldn't be any firemen involved and I had a chance at winning a medal.
"I was hoping to win just one. I would have been happy with that."
More than anything, Susan was glad to have her husband in good health after the races.
"He kept getting real close to the wall on his backstroke turns," she said, laughing. "I thought he'd hit his head and forget who I was."