PHOENIX, Arizona, April 23. JOE Pascale, who turned heads during his preparation for the 2012 Olympic Trials with his thick facial hair and large frame, announced his retirement from competitive swimming today, turning his full attention to mixed martial arts.
Pascale didn't start taking swimming seriously until late in high school, but he was impressive enough to earn a place on Auburn's swim team. He found a new life as a mixed martial arts competitor when he left Auburn in 2005, but returned to swimming in a quest to make the 2012 Olympic team.
Pascale placed 140th in the 50 free in Omaha, but kept swimming. His final meet was the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa two weeks ago, and though he did not swim in a championship final, he was hoarded by young fans in the autograph zone.
Image courtesy Joe Pascale
Now, at age 29, he's returning to MMA cage fighting. He's been training full force at a gym in Virginia since the Arena Grand Prix, though he has not said when his first MMA bout will take place.
I've retired from competitive swimming. Was a wild ride & have gr8 memories! Now 2 focus 100% #MMA. Plz keep following me on this journey.
— JOE PASCALE (@JRPascale) April 23, 2013
Watch this recent SwimmingWorld.TV interview with Pascale from the 2012 Tom Dolan Invitational: