Jennifer Gardiner • Regina • Swimming
For Jennifer Gardiner, the second time was the charm when it came to masters swimming. She became involved in swimming at the master level in 2005, but gave it up after a year and a half. She tried again in 2012 with the Regina Masters Swim Club with more positive results.
"This time I joined because I really did miss swimming and I missed being part of a team. I also missed the excitement of competing and racing," Gardiner said. "It was tough coming back after not having swam at all for seven years. At first I still wasn't sure if I wanted to stick with it, but once I went to my first masters' swim meet, I knew that it was something that I wanted to commit myself to."
Swimming is nothing new to Gardiner, who was a member of the Regina Optimist Dolphin Swim Team for 15 years when she was younger. She has always loved the team atmosphere of swimming.
"For the most part, it's an individual sport, but you are so dependent on your team for support and encouragement all of the time, whether that be at practices or at swim meets," Gardiner said.
Gardiner is a finalist in the 2017 Master Athlete of the Year for the Saskatchewan Sport Awards-an annual awards program of Sask Sport Inc. designed to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of Saskatchewan amateur athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers.
She set long course provincial records in her 35-39 age group in all of her swimming events at the FINA World Masters Championships. Her meet was also highlighted with two fifth place podium finishes (400 free and 800 free). She finished with a gold medal in the 200 back, silver medals in 400 individual medley and 1,500 free, and bronze medals in the 400 free and 800 free in the 35-39 age group at the Canadian Masters Swimming Championships. She also broke short course provincial records in the 800 and 1,500 free.
"Walking out and having my name read at the medal ceremonies of the FINA World Masters Championships was a very proud and humbling moment for me," Gardiner said. "I had trained so hard for two years leading up to that competition, that it just felt like it was the icing on the cake."
Gardiner noted that the amount of sacrifices she has had to make along the way made the experience even more memorable.
"I'm up at 4:15 a.m. every day; I either have dryland training or swimming," she said. "I teach 28 Grade 3 students all day and then I have training again after school and on the weekends. It's a very busy routine and my life basically revolves around teaching, training, sleeping and eating, but I love it."
For Gardiner, there are many benefits of being involved in sport. As a teacher, she tries to pass along her knowledge.
"I talk to my class all of the time about the importance of dedication, commitment and goal setting - not just at school, but in sports and in life," she said. "It's important for younger athletes to realize that success is earned and not given. To be successful in your sport, you need to do whatever it takes to reach your goals. You need to work hard every, single day, both physically and mentally. "
What makes Jennifer Gardiner #SaskProud?
"It's always fantastic getting to represent my city and my province. It's also very rewarding when I am able to reach my goals since there aren't as many competitions around our province. Everyone surrounding the sport of swimming in the province is always so supportive. It makes me proud to be part of such an encouraging athletic environment in the province."
For more information on our Saskatchewan Sport Awards program please visit www.sasksport.sk.ca/SportAwards. This program can also be found on social media in support of the #SaskSportAwards and the #SaskProud campaign on twitter @CSCSaskatchewan and Facebook CSC Saskatchewan.
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