Dennis Butts swims with North Texas Masters with coaches Dave Young and Anna Procious. Butts, owner of a property damage restoration company, and his wife Molly have two children.
Butts tried out for his high school swim in 10th grade, mostly because they were allowed to wear "stylish polyester sweatpants and jackets" to school on swim meet days, "seriously," he laughs. Because he didn’t drown at tryouts he made the team by default and went on to have a pretty successful high school swimming career. He continued to swim until the summer after his freshman year in college, but got away from competing after high school. Butts coached USA Swimming and summer league kids for several years while working for the aquatic division of a local parks and recreation department.
Fast-forward several years: marriage, kids and career. Suddenly it was 2007 and Butts was at least 40 lbs overweight. "At that point I did what anyone in that situation would do and signed up for my first triathlon," he says. He had always wanted to do a triathlon but never really had a reason to actually go through with it. That all changed when his younger brother Jonathan completed one and Butts felt he had to finally give it shot. After more than 15 years, he got back in the pool to begin training. He found a new joy in swimming and since this new start, he has completed numerous sprint, Olympic and half-iron distance triathlons as well as Ironman Texas in May 2011.
Currently, Butts does his best to get in the pool three times per week for about an hour at a time. The average workout is in the 3.300-yard range, the bulk of which is freestyle. During the summer months he also mixes in an extra day of open water swimming as time allows. Open water swimming is still relatively new to Butts but he really enjoys the change of scenery from pool swimming. "I have never done a cable swim but I think it is something I would really like to try," he says.
Butts tries to work out with people who are better than he is, in the hopes that he will pick up some of what makes them successful. "Fortunately for me, there are a lot of really good swimmers on NTEX and they are nice enough to put up with me hanging out in their lanes," he says. He also likes to have goals to help motivate him. He does not always meet them, but likes to have them just the same. His goal this year was 200 miles and he was on pace to exceed that until he took a few months off to work on his business. He really missed the pool time during the period he was away. "While I’m finally back at it again, I’m going to need to really pick up the pace to complete my goal for the year. As I said, goals are motivational and great to have but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you just get in and swim," says Butts.
He feels that swimming has opened a lot of doors and opportunities for him and he really enjoys the people on his team and the new friends he has made by getting back in the pool. "I’m a happier, healthier person because of it and have been able to accomplish activities and challenges that I would have never thought possible four or five years ago," he says.
His family served as his support crew for Iron Man Texas. They put in a full day of following him all over the course and they were still smiling when he met them at the finish line. "This was one of the hardest physical things I have ever done and having them there to support me meant the world to me," says Butts.
- Human Interest