Paul Parmenter Heads to US Olympic Trials
June 12, 2008
Later this summer, hundreds of swimmers will compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials for the chance to earn a spot on the national team. Joining the fray will be former Falcon Paul Parmenter, who, along with fellow 2007 graduate Chris Knaute, is competing in this year's Trials as a member of the Air Force World Class Athlete Program (WCAP).
The WCAP is a two-year program that provides Air Force personnel the opportunity to train and compete at national and international sports competitions with the ultimate goal of selection to the United States Olympic team. It targets athletes who have already achieved world class status in their respective sports. The program ends with the Olympic Trials or after competing with the national team at the Olympics.
While Parmenter, a the Academy's record holder in the 200 IM, held the necessary credentials to become a member of the WCAP by the time he graduated, his beginnings as an Air Force swimmer were much more humble. Parmenter started out as a walk-on at the Academy, but through hard work, evolved into one of the Falcons' top performers. He won his first conference championship in the 200 IM in 2006 and defended his MWC title in 2007, while also earning his first Olympic Trial qualifying mark in his senior season.
"Paul has continually surpassed expectations in his swimming career," said Air Force head coach Rob Clayton. "He is a real student of the sport, with a meticulous attention to detail. He trains hard and pays attention to every facet of his life in order to maximize his athletic potential."
Parmenter first started thinking about applying for the WCAP at the end of his junior season, when he had a breakout meet at the Mountain West Conference Championships. However, the possibility became more of a reality once he achieved his Olympic Trial qualifying standard in his senior year. Now, as a member of the WCAP, he and Knaute train out of the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center in Charlotte, N.C. Coached by some of the world's best coaches, Parmenter and Knaute have spent the past year training with multiple Olympians and other accomplished athletes, while competing against some of the world's fastest swimmers--all courtesy of the Air Force.
"I'm glad I applied [to the WCAP] and got in because right now, I probably have one of the best jobs in the Air Force," said Parmenter. "So far, I have to say my experience in the WCAP has been nothing short of amazing. It has allowed me to focus on my training 110%, something that very few people ever have the luxury of experiencing. I consider myself very fortunate to have been given this opportunity."
"I didn't realize this when I got into the WCAP, but being in this program gives me many benefits that most swimmers training for Olympic Trials can only dream of," continued Parmenter. "The Air Force fully funds my training and meet expenses, so while some of my teammates are working jobs or driving around town giving swim lessons between practices, I am able to recover and prepare for the next workout. It makes my training that much more effective."
The effectiveness of Parmenter's training over the course of the past year is evident, as he recently added Trial qualifying times in a pair of events, the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly. With those two events added to the 200 IM, in which he earned his first standard, Parmenter should have a busy week when the Trials roll around later this month.
"This year has been a tremendous opportunity for Paul to focus solely on swimming," said Clayton. "Being part of the WCAP, he has been able to direct all his energies to improving his swimming. When I saw him last fall, he had made some great stroke changes. I can't wait to watch him swim in Omaha. I expect him to have an incredible Olympic Trials."
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and as the summer comes to a close, so too will Parmenter's stint with the WCAP. While he has enjoyed his experience as a professional athlete, Parmenter looks forward to his duties ahead as an Air Force officer. He also plans on starting up a new athletic career, as a triathlete--a hobby he first picked up as a cadet at the Academy.
The benefits of an Air Force education have been great for Parmenter, giving him the opportunity to train as an athlete at the highest level while maintaining his status as an Air Force officer. But even more significantly, he retains a strong foundation of support as he pursues his Olympic dreams.
"The best part of being an Air Force grad is knowing that I have such a strong support base out there," said Parmenter. "I have gone through the best and worst of times with my fellow AFA swimmers and because of that we have an incredible bond. I am still very close with swimmers from the class of 2004 all the way up to the class of 2010. I know that they are tracking my results, just as I track the results of the current AFA swim team."
Parmenter will give Falcons old and new something special to track this summer, as he and the rest of the Air Force contingent compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials, which will take place June 29-July 6 in Omaha, Neb. For more information on the Trials, visit www.usaswimming.org. Meanwhile, to learn more about the Air Force World Class Athlete Program, visit www.usafsports.com/WCAP.htm.