By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, June 2. ARIZONA Masters swimmer Paul Smith might not follow the most conventional training regimen, but that certainly hasn't prevented him from posting some quick times this season in the pool.
"I train probably less than your average Masters swimmer," he said. "The fitness element is secondary. I do three days a week in the pool, and the other days I do some cross training with spinning and weights."
Smith has modified his training as a result of two shoulder surgeries, and it seems to be paying off. At last month's USMS Short Course Nationals in Austin, he grabbed four first-place finishes in the men's 45-49 age group, setting three new national records in the process. His record-breaking swims came in the 200 free (1:43.79), 50 fly (22.67) and 100 fly (51.37). On the first night of competition, he opened the 1000 free with a record in the 100 free (46.89) on his way to a seventh-place finish.
Smith, 48, has only been on the Masters swimming scene for eight years, but he's no stranger to the swimming community. He competed at the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials and won a gold medal on a relay at the 1987 World University Games. Masters has provided him with a new environment and new opportunities; he swims with his wife, and highly enjoys the social side of the sport.
"I love the fitness and social element of it, it's a natural extension of our daily life," he said. "One of the top things is seeing friends, competitors and teammates from my old swim life resurface."
Smith will now shift his focus to Long Course Nationals in August in Portland, where he hopes to build on previous years' success.
"I'd like to improve upon my times from two years ago at Worlds," he said. Smith plans to swim the 50, 100 and 200 free and 50 and 100 fly, his signature events; it would not be a surprise to see a few more national records go down.