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Jack Robertson keeps a positive attitude

Jack Robertson, 59, was selected into the San Diego Hall of Champions marathon swimmers exhibit in 2006, sponsored by La Jolla Cove Swim Club. He is married to his wife of 25 years, Elaine. They have two children, Riley and Brooke.

Robertson graduated from Kent State University in 1973 and earned his doctorate of education administration degree in 1989. He has taught in San Diego since1975, including all of the La Jolla public schools and several private campuses, elementary through high school. He is currently a health education specialist for Grossmont Union High School District. Robertson is also an adjunct professor at National University in La Jolla.

At the age of 19, Robertson was a passenger in the back of a vehicle without seat belts that was involved in a crash. He was paralyzed from the chest down. Since then, he has given hundreds of presentations to children regarding the importance of buckling up and injury prevention. He is president of Action Home Access, a nonprofit that serves seniors and those living with disabilities in San Diego County.

Robertson has participated in such sports as cross country, wrestling, football, basketball, baseball and tennis. He especially loves water. Robertson was a lifeguard, water safety instructor and swim team enthusiast and has been a marathon swimmer since 1975. Among his swims are Del Mar and Belmont Park to La Jolla Cove, Spain to Africa, 28.5 miles around Manhattan Island, a 10k under the Golden Gate Bridge with his brother James and dozens of others. Robertson has made two attempts of the English Channel and hopes his third one will be successful. Oct. 25 will be the 10th consecutive year that he completes the Challenged Athlete Foundation (CAF) Triathlon, held annually at La Jolla Cove.

What brought you to La Jolla?

The winters in Ohio near Lake Erie became considerably challenging in a wheelchair, so I chose Arizona. There, the idea of swimming the English Channel was born, which prompted the move to the West Coast. A friend in Coronado, John Alegret, introduced me to La Jolla Cove, and I was smitten. With his assistance down the dozens of steps, I discovered the underwater beauty and scintillation of the sea, my new home away from home.

What makes La Jolla special to you?

Many reasons: the underwater preserve of La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores for its quasi wheelchair access near the boat launch and challenging swims to the white house, the caves, La Jolla Cove, the pier and snorkeling with family and friends among the leopard sharks. I love La Jolla’s cozy feel and friendly locals. Every sunset is a postcard!

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

Beach access for persons with physical disabilities and seniors at all the beaches, especially La Jolla Cove (stair lift) and the Shores, with a portable walkway from the boardwalk to the hard sand. The beach wheelchairs are nice, but not the solution. Limit the kayak rental business at the boat launch because of potential injuries to swimmers. I was bonked on the head recently by one!

Who or what inspires you?

My wife and children, Riley and Brooke. Elaine is the most supportive and loving wife and mother. My son and daughter inspire me with their fresh wisdom, youthful enthusiasm and brutal honesty!

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Winston Churchill would mix the drinks and fill the room with chatter and charisma; Matthew Webb, the first to swim the English Channel; Jamshid Khajavi, the premier endurance athlete of our day; Albert Einstein would stimulate conversation; Louis Armstrong would be our musician; Groucho Marx would entertain; our children, friends, family and my and my wife’s parents, Helen and Bill and Don and Semida, who would love to mix it up with everyone.

What are you currently reading?

Graduate students’ assignments and Tom Wolfe’s “The Pump House Gang.”

What is your most prized possession?

My friends and family memories, and photographs, videos.

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hat do you do for fun?

Swimming in the ocean and La Jolla YMCA with my family. Checking out what’s new at La Jolla Riford Library, especially biographies, true adventures, modern classics, historical novels, CDs and films. Seeing anything at the La Jolla Playhouse. I enjoy as much outdoor hiking as I can. And taking in San Diego’s live music scene.

Please describe your greatest accomplishments.

Thriving 40 years as a paraplegic, my open water endurance swims, parenting two bright and spunky children, and as president of Action Home Access.com, I’m proud of the numerous individuals with disabilities and senior citizens who’ve been provided with home modifications, i.e., wheelchair ramps, grab bars, safety handrails, ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) faucet/door handles and stair lifts.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Assist others. Embrace the qualities, gifts and opportunities we are given in life and accomplish the most we possibly can with them!