Joy of swimming leads to senior gold

Jim Froula of Farragut discovered the joy of swimming laps in 1992. He discovered the competitive side of swimming laps in the fall of 2013 — at the age of 68.

Now 71, Froula grabbed one gold medal in 70-74 age group [100-yard backstroke] and two silver medals [200- and 50-

backstroke] during Tennessee

Senior Olympics State Finals in Williamson County June 28-29.

“Backstroke is what I do best,” Froula said, noting the 200- and 100-backstroke medal-winning performances were personal best times.

As a result, Froula has

qualified for the National

Senior Olympics next year in Birmingham, Ala. “I qualified for Minneapolis in the 200-backstroke, the 200-freestyle and the 500-freestyle in 2015 but I didn’t go do that,” Froula said about those National Senior Olympics being too far away.

Froula said he plans to be in Birmingham next year.

Growing up in a “small county” in North Carolina, “The only pool in the whole county was at a Girl Scout camp,” Froula, a resident of Concord Hills since 1982, said.

Froula said he discovered his passion for swimming when the subdivision built a community pool “around 1992. ... That’s when it started. … I was in my 40s and I decided I needed some exercise.”

Starting to swim “a quarter-mile a time” using “elementary backstroke and sidestroke,” Froula’s time in the pool gradually increased. And so did his skill.

“I got close to 25 miles cumulative at the end of the summer in 1992,” he said.

By 1996, “It was 103 miles,” Froula said. The most was “113 in 2012.”

Cutting down to 50 seasonal miles swimming in 2015, “I decided I’d start saving my ligaments,” Froula said.

“I had been swimming laps for years, just basic backstroke, sidestroke,” Froula added.

Having to improve his strokes to compete, “My backstroke was elementary, it wasn’t even the legal backstroke that’s used in swimming events,” Froula said. “So, I had to start pretty much from scratch. Never had been on a team.”

To polish his strokes dating back to 2014, “I’ve had three lessons now,” Froula said.

Froula discovered Senior Olympics in 2013 when “I read about it in the newspaper,” he said.

Froula earned “four golds and a bronze” during district competition to earn his first trip to state in June 2014.

“The first time that I went to state I got a silver in the 200-backstroke and I got a bronze in the 200-freestyle and bronze in the 500-freestyle,” Froula said.

Though Froula’s partner, Mary Coffey, doesn’t swim competitively, “She did 20 miles in laps last year,” he said.