“There’s actually two ways of winning, and that’s either become faster than your competition or you outlive them,” said Stuart Martin.Martin has been swimming hard for many years as part of the Wilfrid Laurier Masters Swim program. Now at age 80, it’s his first year in the 80-84 age group, and he’s coming out of last month’s Windsor-area masters swimming provincials with three medals. He’s looking forward to the nationals, then the world competition this summer in Quebec.
The Conestogo resident contributed his wins to the 21 medals won by eight members of the squad March 28-30, taking gold in 100-metre freestyle and the 50-metre freestyle, and silver in the 50-metre stroke.
Martin has been to the world competition seven times in his 35 years of swimming with the masters. His first world competition was also in Quebec in 1994 followed by Sweden, Germany, Italy, Brazil, New Zealand and California. This summer he hopes to come full-circle back to the 15th FINA World Masters Championships in Montreal starting July 27 after competing in the 2014 Canadian Masters Swimming Championships on May 16 in Windsor.
The biggest achievement for the seasoned swimmer was in 2004, Italy where Martin took silver in a team relay. His best prior to that was coming 11th in a five-kilometre swim in Munich (2000). As he enters an older age bracket, his competition lessens, he notes. Still winning isn’t everything, he said.
“I go for the experience of it rather than necessarily the competition. Sure you like to do well and you train hard and you swim hard, but that isn’t really the goal. The goal is the social aspect of it, the cardiovascular training, flexibility – swimming is just exercise as far as I’m concerned.”
The WLU program has about 40 masters swimmers, with a few competing in the masters games while many others are triathletes and compete elsewhere in other sports. Like many clubs, it all started with a touch of boredom while watching kids have all the fun, said Martin.
“My son was in the Region of Waterloo Swim Club as a teen and there were several parents who were sitting around by the pool early in the morning and were saying, ‘This is kind of pointless, what are we going to do?’ So we started pestering the coaches to give us a little bit of space in the pool and they allowed this for one lane and then they saw that there possibly might be some interest in developing a masters [program].”
After several years the university took on the program from ROW and the swimmers began competing under the Golden Hawks banner. Today Martin is focused on continuing with his swimming and maintaining his times.
He joked: “As I move into the older age bracket there are fewer competing, but if they don’t show up, hey that’s their tough luck not mine.”