From Ohio to Here

The Dagleys rediscovered their stride and stroke at Reynolds Lake Oconee, which fits their non-stop active lifestyle perfectly.

Liz Dagley is hustling to get home. She and her husband, Jim, are always hustling. “Liz just texted to apologize for being late,” says Jim. “Her tennis match at The Lake Club went to a third-set tiebreaker.”

Jim is in his home office, a window and a parade of trees separating himself from the family’s MasterCraft ski boat, kayaks, WaveRunners, and stand-up paddleboards. This is one of the few places where Jim sits still with a resting heart rate.

“I’ve become a bit of an osprey expert,” he says, looking up at a nest.

A door opens in the background. “We won!” Liz is home. Jim wishes he could have been playing in a mixed doubles match with her. To make up for it, the two of them will go swimming later.

“But we won’t race each other,” Liz says.

Anyone who knows the Dagleys would not be so sure about that.

[Jim] We both swam at Duke. That’s where we met. [Liz] I was a freestyler and Jim was a backstroker. We took a break from swimming in the mid-1990s when we started our family. We used our free time to watch our kids (Jimmy, Brendan, and Kristin) compete in sports when they were growing up. Jim got humbled a little bit, too.

[Jim] I’ll never live it down. When Jimmy was 14, he was already beating my best times from my senior year at Duke. So I decided to swim next to him in an open meet, thinking I’d give him a little “Dad” lesson. But he smoked me. It felt like someone dropped a piano on my back. I decided to never race him again.

[Liz] You can probably tell we like to compete. Away from the competition, though, we don’t remember the score.

[Jim] Well, that sounds good, but… [Laughing] You do remember my payback to Jimmy, right? In 2016, he swam at the Olympic Trials in Omaha. After his swim, he wanted to play basketball, so he and I found an outdoor park. I beat him and refused to ever play again—just to leave it on that note.

People thought we were nuts to move, but when they come visit us they say, ‘Oh we get it, this place is perfect for you.’ The Dagleys

[Jim] The two of us needed a place like Reynolds. We came to check it out in 2016 and, honestly, we were looking for reasons not to move here. We figured it might be too much like a resort. But on that weekend, we played tennis, we got out on the lake, and we saw the pool at The Lake Club. We realized, well, we aren’t watching our kids compete anymore. If we move here, we can get back into some of the activities we haven’t done for a while.

It felt good to pull the ripcord. We had a primary home in Hudson, Ohio and a lake home an hour away. It was a pain to go back and forth. Here, we have everything we want in one home. In essence, we downsized and made life less complicated.

Our kids say it’s a mini-vacation when they visit. We have a putting green and cornhole in the backyard. We go wake surfing and run on the trails. We play pickleball and golf. The last time Kristin was here, she and I swam out to an island across the cove.

[Liz] Pretty sure she beat you. [Jim] I think we tied. She did say that she outshot me last Father’s Day at The Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds. She’d barely held a gun before and she’s out there hitting all those clay targets. It was impressive.

We always make up little competitions. Our son Brendan was supposed to run a road race last year, but it was canceled due to COVID. So we set up a half-marathon course here at Reynolds because there’s so much space. Brendan was the only one out there running and the Members came out to cheer for him along the route. [Liz] He likes to say he won!

[Jim, laughing] And I say, “You also finished last.” I will admit one regret: In more than four years here, I haven’t been fishing once. I love to fish, and here we are on the lake with our boat. I just haven’t made the time to do it.

[Liz] There are days when we feel like taking a break. Yesterday Jim played golf. Then we went wake surfing and played tennis—singles and doubles. This morning we were really close to doing nothing, but then Jim went for a run and I went for a walk. Next thing you know, we’re playing tennis again.

[Jim] Now we do everything together. We’re even back in the pool. Living here has brought us closer, around the things we enjoy. [Liz] But we still always keep score.

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