By Reed Shimberg
PHOENIX, Arizona, July 30. ROBERT Margalis is no rookie. At 28, he is not only one of the oldest members of the U.S. National team but he also has some of the most international experience. He certainly isn't letting his age stop him.
He has won the Pan American Championships 400 IM in 2003 as well as multiple silver medals at SC Worlds, Pan Ams, and Pan Pacs. He predominantly swims the 200 and 400 IM but also swims the middle distance and distance freestyle.
He had an illustrious high school and college career growing up in St. Petersburg, Fla., swimming for St. Pete Aquatics, and swimming collegiately for the University of Georgia.
Margalis is currently training FAST still trying to accomplish his Olympic dream. He has come so close before finishing third three different times. I caught up with him just a bit before nationals to see how he liked FAST, what he has been up to, and how he felt about his little sister, and past U.S. Junior National Team member, Melanie deciding to follow in his footsteps at Georgia.
How is FAST?
FAST is great we have a pretty small training group and everyone is able to get what they need. Aside from Sean [Hutchison] we have the coaches that have always been at FAST that help us out a lot. Bill Jewell is the head age group coach and he, along with the rest of the staff, has been awesome.
What keeps you motivated after all of these years?
I still know that I can swim faster than I ever have. I am still happy to go to practice and excited to swim faster.
What advice have you been able to pass down to your sisters as they went through the college process?
I didn't really have too much for Stephanie because I am only 2 years older than her but I think my parent's experience with helping me make a decision helped her. Melanie is 10 years younger so I'm probably a little more protective. I tried not to sway her but give her some insight when she had questions along the way.
How excited are you that Melanie decided to go to your alma mater UGA?
I'm really happy for Mel. I love Athens and the University and I know that Jack and Harvey will take care of her while she's there. It's a really good excuse to go visit this fall. Not that I need a better excuse than football.
What is your most memorable moment in your swimming career so far?
My only international gold medal is the most memorable. I won the 400 IM at Pan Ams in 2003 and there is really nothing that compares to standing on the awards stand and having the national anthem played for your accomplishment.
You're extremely versatile in the pool, what is your favorite event?
My favorite event has varied over the years. The 400 IM has always been near the top of the list. Lately, because I've been working on my backstroke and swimming it well the 200 back has been my favorite in-season event.
You're getting older for a swimmer, what are you still hoping to accomplish in the pool?
I'm hoping to make more international teams so I can represent the US. I have been pretty close to making the Olympic Team in the past and making that team is the ultimate goal.
Do you see yourself retiring anytime soon?
I'll retire when I am no longer having fun and don't think I can do the work to be the best athlete I can be. Hopefully that won't be too soon.
What do you do for fun in between practices?
I really like the beach in Southern California.
Do you hang out with people who swim at FAST outside the pool? If so, who and what do you guys do?
We don't all hang out all the time but sometimes we all get together for dinners or to go to the beach. I have been friends with Kara Lynn for a long time and we went to Georgia together so she's probably the person I hang out with most.
Who is your favorite person to train with?
It's actually not someone that I can swim with anymore. One of my best friends, Andrew Mahaney and I were roommates in college and had some great battles over the years. He's still in Athens and is a police officer and only gets in the pool for fitness these days.