Karen Andrus-Hughes is the marketing manager at S.R. Smith, but after work, you may well find her training in the pool. All that work pays off: She swam so fast last year that she posted the fastest time in 11 events in her age group. Now she’s preparing for U.S. Masters Swimming’s Spring National Championships in Indianapolis in May.
This love of water goes back to college days. Andrus-Hughes went to Arizona State University on a swimming scholarship and helped the Sun Devils win the 1977 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national title.
After getting a B.A. in journalism, she entered the work force and also got married. Soon she was off to Nashville, where husband Bruce had a new job as director of operations at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. When they moved to Portland, Ore., five years later, she dove into marketing. Over the years, she worked for various firms, including Gerber Advertising, Louisiana Pacific Corp. and Weyerhaeuser. In February 2012, she joined S.R. Smith, maker of diving boards, pool lifts and other pool equipment in Canby, Ore.
Her many achievements as a Masters swimmer are all the more remarkable because after college, she left swimming for 20 years. Andrus-Hughes returned to the water for health reasons. “I was talked into doing a relay, but really, the goal was to stay healthy and active,” she explained. “I swam my first races in summer 2000 and made a top U.S. time and thought, ‘That’s not bad!’”
Indeed. Since she started competing in Masters Swimming, she has set seven U.S. National Records in backstroke events, three of which also were World Records. Every year, USMS and FINA post the Top 10 times for each event and age group. Since 2002, Andrus-Hughes has achieved a fastest event time 68 times!
In 2012, she had the greatest number of No. 1 times in her age group. “I was thrilled to have all 11 top U.S. times stay No. 1 in the World Rankings for 2012!” she said. That accomplishment also earned her the 2012 USMS Pool All-Star Award, which she had earned one other time, in 2003.
Though Andrus-Hughes doesn’t have her own pool, she and Bruce live along the Tualatin River and like to go kayaking. On a recent vacation in Hawaii, she went ocean swimming and loved gliding among the dolphins and other fish. Apparently, she’s never far from the water, even on vacation.