Dave Noble holds 16 state swimming records in his age group.
At last year's Missouri State Senior Games and Show-Me State Games, Noble, who is 67, broke all 16 of those records, eight of them from Show-Me State Games competitions in the 64 to 69 age group and the other eight in the Missouri State Senior Games' 64 to 69 age group.*In 2008, Noble also broke three records in breast stroke competition for his age group, 60 to 64. This year, he hopes to break more records in the backstroke competitions.
"I am planning to break all backstroke records," Noble said by phone from his home in Raymore. "I have never swam backstroke in competition, not even in my younger days."
Noble swam in high school and in college for Central Missouri State University, now called the University of Central Missouri. After being named All American in 1966, he took a break from swimming and did not exercise for more than 40 years. When his mother passed away in 2009 at age 93, Noble had a realization about health and well-being.
"I thought, maybe I better get myself going, or I won't live to see (my kids) get married," Noble said. "The only thing I knew was swimming."
Noble decided to call his former college coach, Tom Hairabedian, 87, to see if he would help him get back into swimming. Hairabedian coached at Central Missouri until 1965, when he started coaching at MU, the first year the university had a swim program.
"He came to me and said, 'Coach will you coach me again?'" Hairabedian said by phone from Independence. "I said, 'What for?'"
Together, they went to the pool to see what Noble was capable of after being away from swimming for so long. Noble swam a 100-meter breaststroke in 1 minute, 21 seconds, the same time he clocked as a freshman in high school.
"I was completely exhausted," Noble said. He knew the first days were the hardest, but he knew he had to keep going to make progress. After six months of practicing, Noble needed something to drive him to work even harder. He needed to compete.
That is when he first discovered the Missouri State Senior Games.
"I was terribly nervous," Noble said about competing in his first meet at the games in 2008.
Despite his nerves, he set three state records in breaststroke competitions for his age group. Noble began to find more meets and continued to break swimming records.
After breaking the records for breaststroke competitions, Hairebedian told Noble he needed to swim all strokes, including backstroke.
"I hate it. Coach forced me into it, and for the first six months, I thought I could survive waterboarding after getting so much water in my face," Noble said with a laugh about learning the backstroke.
Noble's practice will be put to the test this weekend when he competes in eight different events at the Missouri State Senior Games. Three of those events will be backstroke competitions.
"We straightened him out, and he started going to town," Hairbedian said about Noble. "He's always been a hard worker, he takes care of himself and he set out to succeed."