For the past two years, the Augusta swimmer has been training full time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Lamback is making one final run toward the gold. The Paralympic Games, his last meet, begin Aug. 29 in London.
“We’re going to grind a lot for nine months,” he said. “This is the phase where you get the snot kicked out of you.
“I’m counting down the days till I retire.”
The 25-year-old Lamback, who was born with cerebral palsy, will make his third appearance in the Paralympics, which run two weeks after the Olympics. In his previous two appearances, Lamback won a gold, two silver and three bronze medals.
At the 2008 Paralympic Games, he earned four medals – the most of any U.S. male swimmer. The highlight of his run in Beijing came when he set world records in the preliminaries and finals of the 100-meter backstroke in the S7 division for his first gold medal.
“It’d be nice to follow that up with some more gold medals,” he said. “Let’s just go out with a bang. Let’s just go out and put on a show.”
Lamback, who began swimming at age 9 and competed in his first international meet in 2002, appears to be in prime form. In August, he won six medals – two gold – at the Para Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Edmonton, Alberta. He captured the 400-meter freestyle with a time of 4:59.28 and took the 100 backstroke in 1:14.85.
“It was solid. It was a good meet,” he said. “When you get into a zone, you’ve got to rock and roll.”
Lamback returns this week to Augusta for Christmas break. When he travels Jan. 2 to Colorado Springs, he will be back in full-tilt training mode.
A typical day consists of a 7 a.m. arrival at the pool for a two-hour workout. Three days a week, he adds time in the weight room.
“It’s a love-hate thing,” he said. “Sometimes, you ask yourself why you keep going.”
Lamback originally planned to exit the water after the 2008 Paralympics. Then, he changed his mind.
“It can’t happen now,” he said in a 2008 interview with The Augusta Chronicle. “There’s a world record to be defended.”
Upon his retirement from the sport next year, Lamback plans to return to Augusta State University. He’s unsure of his major, even though he’s completed almost all of his core classes.
Whatever he plans to do in the future, he said swimming will always stay with him.
“It’s something you’re never going to forget,” Lamback said. “It’s been a fun ride.”