By Jen Bengtson
Special to Fosterís
DOVER ó Superior Court Judge Bruce Mohl sits in a
brown upholstered chair by the window in his chambers
behind Courtroom 1 at the Strafford County Courthouse.
He is calm and well spoken, seeming to choose each
word carefully as he presses his fingers together and
leans back. But Mohl is a busy man. Very busy. "I
take on more than I should," he says.
Fifty-five year-old Mohl is busy both in the
courtroom and excelling out in the local swimming
community. Most recently, Mohl, who is a member of the
Great Bay Masters swim team, won all 10 events in his
age group at the New England Masters Championship Meet
on Dec. 8 and 9 at Wheaton College.
He also set a New England record as part of one of
the five relay teams heís on. He was also the high
point scorer for the team. The Great Bay Masters took
home first place from the meet. But Mohl doesnít like
to talk too much about his stellar performance that
weekend. In fact, it just seems to be another
accomplishment under his belt.
Court Judge Bruce Mohl won all 10 events in his
age group at the New England Masters Championship
meet. (Barry Carr/Democrat photo)
Mohl, who was elected 14 years ago, did not resume
swimming after college until his early 40s when he moved
to the area and joined the Great Bay Masters. Mohl
gained All-American status in the sport while attending
Hamilton College in upstate New York. During his hiatus
from swimming, however, he made great strides in his
career. Mohl attended Boston University Law School and
practiced law for 10 years before moving to New
Mohl says he got involved with swimming again because
of his children. Mohl has two daughters who began
swimming at about ages 8 or 9. Both were state champion
swimmers at Oyster River High School in Durham, Mohl
His oldest daughter was an All-American swimmer in
high school and was nationally ranked at Stanford. Mohl
credits Seacoast Swimming Association coach and close
friend Mike Parratto for not only resuming his
connection with swimming, but for the evolution of the
nationally recognized Seacoast Swimming program.
"Mike developed the program with few
resources," says Mohl, noting that it was a great
fortune that Parratto came to the Dover area and created
a successful program.
Mohl also happens to be the president of Seacoast
Swimming as well as a chairman for New England Swimmers
for the past 10 years. Mohl has also evolved Seacoast
Swimming on his own accord by making it accessible
online. Seacoast Swimming Vice President John Barbary
says Mohl forced the issue of putting the program online
to make it more effective and efficient. Prior to
Mohlís online development, the program was handled
entirely on paper and was very cumbersome.
"It just needed to be done," says Mohl, his
simple answer contradicting a rather difficult task.
Mohlís involvement in the swimming community
eventually got him back in the pool. He joined the Great
Bay Masters in his early 40s and claims he has been
competing on and off ever since. According to Ed
Gendreau, Great Bay Masters coach since the fall of
1997, the team consists of men and women ranging in age
from 18 to 78. Practices are held at the Dover,
Portsmouth, and University of New Hampshire pools three
times a week and increase to four practices a week
during the summer.
Gendreau says the team keeps its emphasis on
practicing, the goal both fitness and camaraderie in a
"We rally around events," Gendreau says.
The Great Bay Masters go to the New England Masters
Championship Meet twice a year. The event is held in
April and December and the team also prepares year round
for the Hour Swim in January. Competitors swim as far as
they can in the elapsed time for the
event. On the weekend of Dec. 8, Mohl had laryngitis,
but he didnít tell anybody.
"I didnít have to tell anybody," he says.
"[You could tell] by my voice."
Despite being sick, Mohl won all 10 events in his age
group and set a New England record in a relay. Even more
amazing is the fact that Mohl had not competed in 5
years prior to that weekend in Norton, Mass. He spent
this down time swimming for fitness and taking up golf.
Mohl trained for about two and a half months before the
"I was surprised how quickly I came back,"
But this success cannot be considered ordinary.
Perhaps Mohlís outlook on competition keeps him ahead
of the crowd.
"[In swimming], your competition is against the
clock and yourself," he says. "The clock never
Parratto believes that Mohl is successful in the pool
and in the courtroom partly due to his competitive
nature. Parratto says he had the opportunity to watch
Mohl in action in the courtroom. He says Mohl was very
prepared and professional.
"Bruce likes to be in charge," Parratto
Mohl agrees that experience makes a better judge.
"You become a much better trial judge the more
you do it," he says. He continues by emphasizing
the importance of being prepared. "You never know
what will happen in the courtroom."
Mohl seems to take a similar approach to his swimming
ethic. Not only does Mohl swim for the exercise and the
love he has for the sport, but also for the challenge of
the workout both in and out of competition. And although
Mohl is a few years older now, his success in the pool
is still prevalent.
"Iím slower," he says. "[But
maturity and focus] keeps you physically fit and
And itís this focus and determination that not only
brought Mohl success in the pool a month ago, but has
made him a leader among the entire community.