Diving into world competition

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This article was published 06/01/2014 (3317 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Determination, focus, and hard work; it’s what Leah Barnlund has committed to as she prepares for the 15th FINA World Masters Championship in swimming.

Barnlund, 56, has been swimming since she was four years old. In her younger years she was extremely competitive, competing in provincial and national events. She took a break when she had her children, then dived back in during her early thirties. Since then she has earned many Manitoban records in different age categories as she’s grown older.

She wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without the guidance and support of the Manitoba Masters Aquatic Club (MMAC).

Sou'Wester Leah Barnlund, 56, of Fort Garry, will be competing in the 15th annual FINA World Masters Championships this July in Montreal, Que.

“We do many hours of training,” Barnlund said. “I swim three to four times a week, probably 12,000 metres a week and I have to be very consistent with it.”

This is not the first time Barnlund has been to the Worlds competition. She also competed in 1994 when it was in Montreal previously.

“It’s a huge meet, thousands of swimmers go,” said Barnlund.

Barnlund is realistic for her goals at the global event.

“My goal, at my age, is to maintain my level of speed as I continue to get older,” said Barnlund. “I could probably speed up a little bit but a second or two here or there — believe me, a tenth of a second sometimes is as hard to achieve as a minute.”

Though she doesn’t expect to place among the some former Olympic athletes, Barnlund believes she will do reasonably well being in the middle of her age group: ages 55 to 59.

“I’ll be smack-dab right in the middle of it,” Barnlund said. “Which isn’t a good or bad thing, it’s just probably better, when you get to my age, to be younger in the age group.”

Barnlund will be competing in back-stoke, breaststroke, and the individual medley. Though she has had some setbacks with injuries to her groin and lower back, she is in the water at least four times a week, getting in as many metres as she can.

“It takes a lot of commitment, it really does,” said Barnlund. “Swimming can be a little tiring, but if you keep at it consistently, and you’re in good shape, it gets easier.”

Sou'Wester Barnlund is in the pool three to four times a week, kicking up to 12,000 metres a week, all to prepare for the competition.

Jason Carter is one of Barnlund’s coaches at the MMAC and will also be competing at the championship, which runs July 27 to Aug. 10. He said Barnlund’s commitment will help her at the competition.

“Her strength is probably her solid swimming with her very upbeat attitude towards swimming and competition,” Carter said. “She’s just very keen and I think that has been her strength over the years.”

The MMAC, which has been operating since 1981, is looking for new members to join its ranks.
 Sheila Sapirstein, MMAC president, said anyone is welcome to join as long as they are over 18 years old and can swim 100 metres, or four lengths of the pool, comfortably.

“What is great about our club is because we are large and because we are at the Pan Am, we are able to offer flexible schedules,” Sapirstein said, adding their swim times range from the early mornings and mid-mornings to later at night.

The ages of the members range from early twenties to eighties. Sapirstein said many of the members are triathletes looking to improve their swim. For more information, visit mmac.mb.ca

For more information on the 15th FINA World Masters Championships in Montreal, visit finamasters2014.org

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