A Lifelong Sport: Three Masters Reflect on the Value of Swimming

Swimming means something different to every swimmer. Last May, athletes competing at the 2022 Speedo Masters Canadian Swimming Championships reflected on the importance of swimming in their own lives.

After competing in triathlons for the first time during the summer of 2021, Clayton James Bell wanted to work on his fitness and performance in the water.

Having only competed in one swimming competition prior to the national championships, the Dalhousie graduate reflected on the Masters community.

“At my first meet there was an 85-year-old gentleman swimming the 1,500-m freestyle,” James Bell said. “He was out there and just didn’t care. Just loving the sport. I find it super inspiring to be among such great athletes and to see everybody working hard, having fun and trying to be better.”

James Bell has enjoyed the process of going “full force into swimming” and highlighted what the sport means to him.

“To me, swimming means pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and trying to achieve things that you didn’t think possible,” James Bell said. “I think that’s what brought me to swimming in the first place. Pushing myself to try new things. Working on yourself physically and mentally and trying to grow as a person with others and to help them do the same.”

Orenda Palzer has been swimming with the Regina Masters since 2009, but started as an age group swimmer long before that. Palzer joined the Masters community when she was pregnant with her son.

Initially, she was just looking for the fitness benefits that come with swimming daily. After training through two pregnancies, however, Palzer looked to get back into competing.

“It’s so much fun being back,” Palzer explained. “It brings back lots of memories of age group swimming. It’s good to push yourself and have a goal to work towards.”

Having grown up with the sport, Palzer added that swimming has become an important part of who she is.

“I think as a mom and as a full-time working professional, swimming is the time I get to go and do something for me,” Palzer said. “It’s fun with all the people that I swim with. It’s also my time to think because I’m on the own in the water. It’s my me time.”

Like Palzer, Mike Chambers of the Manitoba Marlins Masters started swimming as an age grouper. Since then, he has been in and out of the pool, but has been training consistently with Masters.

Chambers has worked to prioritize his physical and mental health. He enjoys that swimming helps cover both of those priorities.

“I’m really happy,” Chambers said. “Swimming is great because you find community and like-minded people. [At the national championships] you get that on a much larger scale with people you haven’t seen before. It’s a lot of fun.”

Chambers acknowledged the sacrifices his family has made to allow him to train and compete at the national level. For him, swimming is more than just a sport.

“They say swimming is life,” Chambers said. “It absolutely is. It’s part of my journey.”

Article courtesy of Swimming Canada – https://www.swimming.ca/en/