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by Daniel Paulling

May 12, 2018

The Illinois Masters member set his second butterfly record at Spring Nationals on Saturday

David Sims continues to dominate his somewhat old stroke made new again.

The Illinois Masters member went 2 minutes, 01.59 seconds in his 200-yard butterfly at the 2018 Nationwide U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship on Saturday, giving him his second USMS record in two days. He also went a 53.69 in his 100 fly on Friday.

“I thought the 100 record was better swum,” the 55-year-old Sims says. “I thought the 200 fly was not a great swim. I was a little disappointed in that. I thought I was going to go a little faster. I think I could go a faster one under a little bit different circumstances.”

Still, his 200 fly was better than the previous record, his 2:01.67 last month that broke a record set in 2010. His 100 fly Saturday broke a record set five years ago.

Sims’s success in fly came after he swam that stroke and distance freestyle in high school but was recruited to Stanford for the latter events. The 200 fly and the 1650 were the same day at the NCAA Division I championships, essentially making it impossible for him to compete in both races.

Now that he’s a Masters swimmer, Sims largely focuses on fly, individual medley, and sprint freestyle. He’s only swum the 1650 in Masters Swimming meets twice since 2013.

“I’m able to do all the things I couldn’t do, which I really love,” the Fossil Fish workout group member says. “I don’t have a lot of desire to do my old events. It could be fun, but training for the mile is a lot different than training for the 200 fly, the 100 IM, and everybody I train with doesn’t want to train for the mile, and I don’t think I want to do that on my own.

“It seems like my fly has been the most consistent stroke, and even though I don’t train a lot of fly, it’s still pretty good in terms of my technique and my ability to swim best times.”

Sims’s distance freestyle success included qualifying for the 1980 U.S. Olympic swim team, though he never competed in the games, held in the Soviet Union, because the U.S. boycotted them.

One of his teammates from that team, Rowdy Gaines, made an appearance at Spring Nationals on Saturday. Gaines, a Central Florida Y Masters member, kept swimming and qualified for the 1984 U.S. Olympic swim team at the IU Natatorium.

“This is sort of our Wrigley Field, Fenway Park,” says Gaines, who was promoting the 2018 Pan American Masters Championships, which start July 28 in Orlando, Fla. “I’ve been back a million times. Every time I come here, it still brings up some great memories. I love it.”

Gaines, who won three gold medals at the 1984 Olympic games, spent time Saturday announcing, something he’s familiar with considering his broadcasting role with NBC for its Olympics coverage, and taking photos and signing autographs for fans at the meet.

Gaines provided the following technique advice for swimmers in a Facebook Live chat in which he discussed a number of swimming-related topics.

Learn About Your Head Position — “When I was younger — Masters [swimmers], when they were younger — I was taught to keep my head up and the water level was supposed to be [slightly above your eyebrows]. So, what you want to try to do is keep your head in line with your spine. That’s the big thing I tell Masters swimmers. A lot of them don’t recognize that. They keep their head up. You have to have that feeling of swimming downhill.”

Focus on the Small Things — “We still try to keep the elbows nice and high and stay streamline in the water. Not only off the walls, but also close to streamlined when you’re swimming.”

Engage Your Kick — “The other thing is Masters swimmers, in general, they’re scared of the kick. They want to get in and swim as much as possible within that 45 minutes they’ve got, and they forget a lot about the kick sometimes. Me, I really try to engage my legs as much as possible. I know that I don’t have the time sometimes to work on my kick. That’s a part of being a successful swimmer, not just from a competition standpoint but also from a recreational standpoint. We want to engage with our legs.”


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