Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, Paulus was an outstanding age group swimmer for the Panther Boys Club. Competing for Arlington Heights High School, he was a four-time UIL champion, setting state records in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM. At the University of Texas under Coach Eddie Reese, Paulus was a four-year all-American, five-time SWC champion, two-time NCAA champion and helped the Longhorns win their first-ever NCAA Championship in 1981. In 1980 he set the world record and qualified for United State's Olympic swim team; however, he did not attend the Olympics due to the U.S.'s boycott. Paulus's times from the 1980 USA Olympic Trials would have won two gold medals at the games. He held the 100 Fly world record from 1981-83. He is a diplomat and board-certified member of the American Association of Orthodontists practicing in Fort Worth.