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Omaha man hikes Grand Canyon, takes up swimming to compete in triathlons

Omaha man hikes Grand Canyon, takes up swimming to compete in triathlons

Paul Stultz picked up long-distance bicycling in the late 1970s. He joined a group of friends on a ride from Omaha to Canada.

He stuck with it and added in running and swimming. That got him interested in triathlons. In 2017, the Omaha man completed his first sprint-distance triathlon and has done four more since.

Now Stultz, 63, is taking swimming seriously. He’s joined a Masters Swimming club at Brownell Talbot and works on nailing strokes like the freestyle and butterfly. He gets to the pool at least twice a week.

He still runs and gets out on his bicycle — even in winter. Next up, he’ll ride from Omaha to Washington, D.C., in 2019.

Q: When did you start working out and why?

A: I’ve been active all my life. I’ve been a long-distance cyclist since the 1970s. I did it for fun and fitness and adventure. I’ve swam all my life, but I didn’t start in a disciplined manner until about 2½ years ago. I started to relearn the strokes and joined the YMCA. I joined the Masters Swimming program at Brownell Talbot in September.

Q: Describe your workouts. How many days per week do you exercise?

A: The workout varies every day. The coaches put together a program where you work on strokes and various distances to improve. They include drills, too. You work at your own pace. I go at least twice a week.

Q: What is your current fitness goal?

A: To keep moving. I want to keep moving as I mature and grow older. I want to have good mobility, flexibility, endurance and enjoy life.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?

A: I (hiked) rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon. You start at one end, go into the canyon and go back up. We did it in one day. One of the other hard things I’ve done was ride a bicycle from Seattle to Lincoln in 2016. Just getting on the bicycle day after day is mentally and physically difficult. It took five weeks.

Q: What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?

A: Nagging injuries and having to rest and sit out while you heal up. Then you have to go back through the door.

Q: What helps you stay on track?

A: Family motivates me. I have a very supportive wife. I have a lot of friends in all the disciplines — running, swimming and cycling. We all have fun doing what we do, and we all motivate each other. Having good coaches like Jimmy Parmenter and Jeff Nelson, that’s really motivating, too. It helps keep me moving. Obviously, at my age, I’m not going to break any records, so I just look for personal bests.

Q: What is your gym pet peeve?

A: I don’t have any. I just focus on what I’m doing and try not to annoy other people.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t in the gym?

A: I enjoy reading. I do some volunteer work with my wife at church. I picked up playing the banjo, and that’s been fun.

Q: What is the piece of equipment, supplement, clothing, etc. that you can’t live without?

A: The bicycle.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fitness journey?

A: Get through the door. That’s the hardest part. Have a goal and don’t be intimidated by joining groups. You find that everybody around you is very supportive and wants to see you succeed.

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