World Masters Spotlight: David Guthrie, Lawrence Day

2016 Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year

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Swimming World Magazine has been recognizing the Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year for the last 13 years. Running from April 4th through April 9th the staff at Swimming World will be shining a spotlight on the accomplishments of our Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year, along with a special spotlight on the runners-up on the 10th.

David Guthrie, USA (55-59)

Six years after he retired from competitive swimming, David Guthrie was lured back into the pool—but not because of his com- petitive instincts.

“When I completed graduate school at Rice University in 1990 and decided to stay in Texas, it meant facing my first notorious Houston summer,” he explained. “It was too hot to continue my regular land-based activities, so the pool seemed like a good way to find refuge from the heat.”

Guthrie ended up finding Coach Emmet Hines and H2Ouston Swims. He had left swimming burnt out after Olympic Trials in 1984, but in Houston, he quickly learned to approach the sport dif- ferently than he ever had before.

“It took a little time to get over my dread of the monotonous black line,” he said, “but Emmet gave me room to work through the negative emotions and allowed me to approach training on my own terms. With this new sense of agency and self-determination, the unpleasant memories quickly dissolved.”

Just a few weeks into his new swimming career, Guthrie went to USMS Nationals at The Woodlands, where he says he “had a blast,” narrowly missing his best times from his prior career. He kept com- peting and now regularly supplements Masters meets with USA Swimming Sectionals and Texas Senior Circuits.

This past season, he set five 55-59 Masters world records in breaststroke events: LC—50-200 (30.65, 2:30.63); SC—50-100- 200 (30.41, 1:07.25, 2:27.00).

He trains much less than he used to train—about 45 minutes per day and a little more on weekends—and he hasn’t counted his yard- age in years, but racing feels just about the same.

“The biggest revelation is that there is little difference,” he said. “The thrills, pressure, challenges and adrenaline—the effort and ex- perience—all still feel just as intense now as when I swam at my biggest meets as a young swimmer. Competition is competition. Preparation is still preparation. And execution is even more precise and rehearsed than ever.” —D.R.

Lawrence Day, USA (65-69)

After suffering a heart attack years ago, it didn’t take long for Lawrence Day—better known as Larry—to set his sights on a return to competitive swimming. Still, there were plenty of moments— months, even—of doubt.

“It felt like a gift from God,” he said. “My faith, wife, family and physicians carried me through months of doubt. Prayer and careful, controlled, evenly-paced aerobic training brought me back, slowly but surely.”

Come USMS Long Course Nationals in 2011, Day was back and set two world records in the men’s 60-64 age group. This past sea- son, he finished with six more in the 65-69 age group: LC—100-200 fly (1:06.53, 2:33.40), 400 IM (5:40.43); SC—100-200 fly (1:05.37, 2:27.25), 200 IM (2:30.96).

“It’s fun to use records as goal benchmarks, and a thrill to break them, but the real benefit of swimming is the quality of health it brings. It relaxes me, and I feel good after practice. It’s like physi- cal meditation. Swimming is the closest exercise to the ‘fountain of youth’ you’ll ever find,” he said.

A lifelong swimmer and University of Michigan man, Day com- peted for the Wolverines from 1969 to 1973. He also coached high school in the 1980s and 1990s, and created the PACE PAL, an under- water pace clock that allows swimmers to see their times while train- ing. He uses it extensively in his own training—six days a week, sprint-focused and dryland-inclusive.

“I do not lift weights, but am a big believer in physical therapy and stretch bands,” he said. “The (bands) are strategically placed throughout our house to encourage spontaneous use throughout the day.”

And Day sees no end to his swimming career in sight, not after it was almost forced from him.

“There’s no guarantee swimming or any sport will extend the quantity of your life, but it certainly increases the quality of life for me,” he said. “Having almost lost that quality from a heart attack, I have no problem staying motivated to preserve vitality through consistent swimming.” —D.R.



  1. Bob Perkins

    David Morrow Guthrie
    Congrats, again…

  2. avatar
    Sven Hackmann

    Super inspiring!
    Time to join the world of Masters Swimming in Los Angeles.

  3. avatar

    Inspirational for an old WSI with pacemaker, me.

Author: Taylor Brien

Taylor Brien is the Assistant Operations Manager and a staff writer at Swimming World. A native of Bettendorf, IA and a 2015 graduate of Illinois College, she has covered a variety of events since joining the SW team in 2015, including the NCAA Championships, World Championships, Olympic Trials, and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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