Jocelyne Yanofsky’s hard work in and out of the water has paid off big time.
The 27-year-old Garden City resident and member of the North End Seals swim club, will compete in the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games, taking place July 8 to 12 in Vancouver. She qualified for the national games after successful swims in the 2013 Special Olympics Manitoba spring and summer games.
Jocelyne, a swimmer since age six, said she’s been training hard, in the pool three or four times a week for the better part of a year, in addition to dry land training with the provincial team and on her own time. She even gave up another favourite sport to focus on swimming.
"I had to give up bowling for swimming because swimming is more important now," Yanofsky said.
Yanofsky said her best stroke is the breaststroke, which along with the butterfly, is a swimming style she only recently attempted.
"That’s a really tough stroke (the butterfly)," Jocelyne’s father, Albert, said. "I guess a lot of athletes don’t do it, they prefer doing the less complicated ones,"
"It’s a little bit hard and takes time to practice. I’ve been doing it for a year or so," Jocelyne added.
Jocelyne’s mother, Sharon, said her daughter has also embraced the provincial team’s commitment to a healthy diet.
"They’ve had really regimented nutrition guidelines for the year and she carries her little yellow nutrition booklet wherever she goes," Sharon said.
"She’s eliminated pop to hardly any, which is a good thing for life and probably helps you with your training and swimming, and I think Jocelyne has encouraged some of her teammates when they go out for food, watching what they’re eating," Albert added.
Provincial team coach Melissa Diamond, who has also coached Jocelyne at the club level, said Jocelyne is a very motivated individual.
"She always wants to do better and is always looking for what she can do to make herself the best she can be. She’s very focused and very dedicated to her sport," Diamond said.
"The change she’s gone through in this last year alone is phenomenal, as far as getting in shape for this provincial team. The events she’s swimming in Vancouver are two pretty hard strokes, breaststroke and butterfly. A lot of people said they could be too much for her and she went and proved them all wrong, just blew everyone out of the water at the last swim meet. She’s out to prove that she can do it, and she can."
In addition to the competitive aspect of swimming, Jocelyne said she enjoys the sport because it’s fun and it enables her to make lots of friends. Her friendly nature also serves her well outside the pool.
"I volunteer at Seven Oaks Hospital," said Jocelyne, who also volunteers at the Manitoba Marathon and the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities.
"I take the patients to the hairdresser and then take them back to their rooms. It’s fun and I get to make lots of new friends around the hospital."
Jocelyne said she’s excited to stay in the Special Olympics athlete’s village at University of British Columbia and taking part in opening ceremonies.
"I’ll be going like this (smiles and waves)," Jocelyne said.