Phillips, 43, back in pool swimming better than ever
By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
After a 20-year absence from the pool, Kailua resident Brett Phillips is leaving competitors and records bobbing in his wake.
Phillips, 43, set an age-division world record for the 800 freestyle (short course meters) Sunday at the USA Swimming Pearl Harbor Distance Meet at Richardson Pool.
Phillips finished the race in 8 minutes, 46.89 seconds, breaking the previous Federation Internationale De Natation (FINA) masters record of 8:49.83 set by Hess Yntema in 1995.
In his second race of the day, Phillips broke a U.S. Masters Swimming Hawai'i record and USA Swimming Hawai'i Senior record with a 4:14.33 finish in the 400 freestyle. His time surpassed the previous record of 4:15.52 set by Kanui Manly in 1982.
"I've been sort of honing in on the top USMS times and records," Phillips said. "I felt I had a chance to go after some of them."
Phillips swam for Kailua High School and the University of Wisconsin before hanging up his goggles to start a career and raise a family.
Through his two children, Phillips eventually renewed his ties to the Aulea Swim Team, the same club he swam with as a child.
"I was watching my kids swim one day and the coach finally told me to get off my butt and get in the pool," Phillips said. "Being back in the pool just relit the fire for me."
Phillips has competed in seven meets since returning to competition late last year. Next up for him is the Short Course Yards Nationals on May 17-20 at Santa Clara, Calif., where he is seeded second overall and first in his age division.