BYU senior swimmer David Mason. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Starting competitive swimming at the age of four and working hard at everything you do is one way to succeed in swimming, and life.
And that is just what 6-foot-3, exercise science major, pharmacy school candidate, youngest of five children, BYU senior swimmer, David Mason, has done.
Mason and all of his siblings began swimming at a young age, possibly fostered by their mother, Mary Ann, who swam for BYU. Brother Jeff and sister Rachel both swam for the Cougars before Mason, which helped him to decide to come to BYU.
“I did swimming for a while and stopped for two years when I was about 11 or 12 and started it back up and swam in high school,” said Mason. “I stopped because I wanted to try other sports.”
After trying basketball and baseball – and really liking baseball – he decided to go back and focus on swimming.
In high school, Mason was voted MVP, a six-time region champion, two-time state champion, four-time record holder and a six-time All-American. With all of these accomplishments he caught the attention of many universities, including the U.S. Air Force Academy – where he originally wanted to go to school.
“I was looking into Air Force a lot and started the application process,” said Mason. “After completing about 75 percent of the application process, I decided to withdraw.”
He explained that his high school guidance counselor compared him to the other candidates and decided he wasn’t going to get in. Little did she know he was being recruited in swimming.
A week after withdrawing his application, Mason received a call from the AFA wanting a little more information on his application. Although he figured at that moment he would’ve gotten into the Air Force Academy, he says he has no regrets.
When Mason was deciding what university to attend, both his brother and sister were on the BYU swim team, so he decided to come on a recruiting trip. After being offered a Cougar scholarship, Mason made his way to Provo, Utah.
“It definitely wasn’t what I thought it was going to be,” said Mason. “It was a lot harder than I thought – especially trying to go to a professional school at the same time. Trying to balance all the other aspects of your life at the same time while trying to graduate on time made life quite stressful and kind of hard.”
Although collegiate swimming was harder than expected, after a year he found another hard thing to accomplish in his life – serving a two-year full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
“It was a great learning experience and I learned a lot of patience on my mission,” said Mason. “I learned how to prioritize things, which was very helpful when I came back to school because before my mission I wasn’t too focused on academics. It helped me see what I need to do when I get back and how I needed to study.”
Despite being a very different cultural experience, having many blood blisters from walking everywhere and having his house robbed right before his birthday, Mason bounced back rather quickly into swimming after his mission.
“I didn’t make the conference team when I came back, even though I should have,” said Mason. “Instead of going to the conference meet, I went to another meet and swam against Olympians Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, and that was a great experience. I swam some really great times there that showed I should’ve gone to conference.”
While his mission and collegiate swimming were harder than expected, Mason did enjoy swimming on relays and beating the University of Utah.
“Swimming on relays is the thing that I love most about swimming,” said Mason. “Having that close-knit group of guys that you can share that experience with – I will miss that. I will also miss beating Utah.”
Although the Cougar men lost overall to the Utes only one week ago, Mason anchored the 400 free relay in the loudest race of the night. With Christian Keil, Danny Bates and John Kendrick in front of him to maintain the pace, Mason dove in to anchor the relay, finishing with a 46.20 split in his 100 to beat Utah by two seconds.
“He’s a lot of fun to have on the team,” BYU sprint coach Shari Skabelund said. “He works hard and leads the team well. He makes me laugh every day at every workout.”
Skabelund would sometimes find notes from Mason written below workouts like the one below:
“Thank you Shari.
You are the kindest, most wonderful and bestest coach in the whole wide world!
Love – DM”
His sarcastic humor is something that Skabelund and other Cougar swimmers and coaches will miss about Mason.
“Not only is he funny, but he is extremely talented and it’s fun to watch him in practice,” said Skabelund. “We tell him to go 100 percent, and he does. He loves to be in front, so he will work as hard as he can to do that.”
With the 2009-10 season coming to a close and the Mountain West Conference Championships only one week away, Mason hopes to use his talent and drive to get personal bests in all of his races.
“I would also like to get an NCAA ‘B’ cut in one of my races and see how that places me in the national standings,” said Mason.
After graduating from BYU in April, Mason hopes to attend pharmacy school at the University of Hawaii and after being a pharmacist for a while, he sees himself teaching chemistry and coaching a high school swim team.