By Wendy Hayworth
On Saturday, June 21, 2014, Lee’s Summit resident Tom Hairabedian competed in the Missouri State Games Senior Games.
“I was in two swimming events on Saturday,” Hairabedian said. “I won both of them and set a record in the 100-yard breaststroke.”
The Missouri State Games Senior Games is an Olympic styled sports competition for athletes aged 50 and older. The games are hosted in Columbia at the University of Missouri’s Recreational Center.
Coming in first place, Hairabedian was just three seconds short of breaking the 100-yard backstroke record, set during last year’s games, with a time of 3:02:54.
“I took in water and had to stop to clear my nose,” Hairabedian said.
Hairabedian not only placed first in the 100-yard breaststroke, but with a time of 2:56:21, he set a new record.
“You always try to make yourself as streamline as you can. Every kick has to be just right so that you’re horizontal, you’re not dragging anything, and you get the best cut through the water,” Hairabedian said.
Hairabedian has been swimming and diving since he returned from service after World War II. He attended the University of Southern California where he was a conference champion.
Hairabedian continued his education to Arizona State for his masters and then the University of Missouri for his doctorate.
“I suppose you’ll be surprised, but I did my dissertation in diving,” Hairabedian said. “Most people that I had in my study, 10 of them, are still diving.”
Hairabedian went on to coach swimming and diving at the University of Central Missouri for 27 years. After retiring, he was asked to coach at various high schools and country clubs.
He retired for the last time from coaching the Lee’s Summit High School diving team in 2012.
Hairabedian has 171 national and international titles in masters diving and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Diver in 2007.
“Other than that, I’m just your average person,” Hairabedian said.
On July 30, Hairabedian will be flying out to Rutgers University in News Jersey to compete in the Masters National Summer Diving Championship. There he will be competing in the one-meter, three-meter, diving, and platform competitions.
“I’ll be going off a 10 meter platform. I’m the only person at age 90 that does that,” Hairabedian said.
With barely enough time to catch his breath, he will then head to Montreal, Canada for the World Masters Games in Aquatics. This competition takes place every two years and brings athletes together from all around the world to participate in swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, and open water swimming.
“I’ll be in four events there too, the one-meter, three-meter, diving and platform, and synchronized diving.”
Hairabedian may not be getting any younger, but he sure is not showing any signs of slowing down.