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Gold and pair of bronze medals for senior swimmer

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Stuart Martin will swim at the FINA World Masters Championships from July 27 to August 10. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
Stuart Martin will swim at the FINA World Masters Championships from July 27 to August 10. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
Conestogo’s Stuart Martin swam for three medals at the Canadian Masters Swimming Championships in Windsor.

Martin placed first in the men’s 80-84 age bracket 100-metre freestyle and third in both the 50- and 100-metre breast stroke on May 16-19.

Martin explained how he continues to excel in sport at 80 years of age.

“Whatever activity you pursue you must be consistent with it. It’s got to go on the must-do list, not the to-do list. If you don’t make the activity a priority, it’ll get lost over the years to the point where you may not be physically able to take part any longer.”

People are far too quick to make excuses, he added.

“Physical fitness and cardiovascular health are instrumental in a person’s quality of life. So do something, do anything that will improve that quality of life.”

It’s not always easy, though.

“There are plenty of cold winter days where I find myself driving to the pool at 5:30 a.m., it’s dark and my car is making the first tracks through the snow. It makes you wonder, ‘What am I doing here?’”

But his passion for swimming and the Golden Hawks masters swim club always prevail.

“Being part of a group enhances your commitment,” he said. “You depend on each other and hold each other accountable.”

Martin grew up in Floradale swimming with friends in the region’s many rivers and ponds.

“We would dog paddle around, bragging that we were swimming,” he recalled. “Really, we’d just be standing on the tips of our toes on the bottom.”

Eventually, he learned the basics, though it wasn’t until later in life that the skills became a defining passion.

“When I joined the masters club 35 years ago, I could barely swim 600-700 metres without needing to hang off the pool deck for air,” he said. “Gradually, I have been able to go further and further to the point where I now swim 2,000-3,000 metres during our hour and a half sessions.”

He credits the Golden Hawks coaching staff for teaching the finer points of the sport.

“The coaches are excellent, especially Waldemar Augustyniak (August),” he said. “August is a technician who could teach all day long.”

Although, at his age, he has pretty well “seen it all,” he said with a chuckle.

The competition continues this summer with the FINA World Masters Championships in Montreal, where Martin is looking forward to the relay race.

“The excitement builds in the relay, as you eagerly await your teammates,” he explained. “The crowd gets into those races, which makes it a lot of fun.”

Martin will share his experiences in swimming with the Mapleton Seniors’ Centre for Excellence on June 11, at noon, at the Palmerston United Church.

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