By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, May 21. A common belief in Masters swimming is that as a swimmer becomes older, they naturally slow down. Forty-year-old Maine Masters swimmer Mike Ross gave the swimming community reason to question this theory with his performance at the 2008 USMS Short Course Nationals, held earlier this month in Austin, Texas.
Ross demolished five national records in the 40-44 age group on his way to five individual gold medals. His record-breaking swims came in the 100 free (45.35), 200 free (1:38.94), 100 back (49.40), 200 back (1:50.09) and 100 fly (49.27). Additionally, he finished fourth in the 50 free in a time of 21.48.
"I was starting to believe that you get slower as you get older, so everything there was surprising. I was very excited by my performance," he said. "Those were my best Masters times that I've swum. Every race was like Christmas morning and opening presents!"
Ross carried his momentum from Nationals to the Santa Clara International Invitational last weekend, where he posted four solid swims in the 100 fly (56.62), 50 free (24.31), 100 free (52.79) and 100 back (1:00.29). Coming into the meet, Ross had hoped to qualify for Olympic Trials, but he was unsuccessful; he will now shift his focus to USMS Long Course Nationals this summer in Oregon.
"Ideally, I'd like to set several world records in the 40-44 age group," he said.
Mike feels his best chances are probably in the 100 fly and 50 and 100 back, events in which he already holds world records in the 35-39 age group. To accomplish his goals, he'll need to keep up with the consistent training schedule he has established.
"I usually swim six times a week, around 4,000 yards a workout. I sort of swim with a 'virtual team,' where I e-mail a group of other swimmers the workout," he said. "If I didn't have that virtual team, it'd be very hard swimming alone, but it keeps me honest in my workouts knowing that I'm sending them to others."