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City swimmers clean up at Masters championships

Dave Paul A pair of veteran Sarnia swimmers has turned in another masterful performance.
Sarnia’s dynamic duo of Masters swimming, Wally Henne and Sue Weir, with some of the medals won at nationals. Dave Paul

Dave Paul

A pair of veteran Sarnia swimmers has turned in another masterful performance.

Wally Henne and Sue Weir each won medals in all seven individual events they entered at the Canadian Masters Swimming Championships, a four-day meet held over the May 24 holiday weekend in Toronto.

Henne, 81, competing in the 80-84 age bracket, had six wins – including a new Canadian record in the 100m individual medley – and a second-place finish.

Weir, who turns 60 later this year, competing in the 60-64 age group, captured five silvers and two bronze. Swimming against a fairly large field in several of the events, Weir had seven top-three performances and finished second by just 14/100ths of a second in the 50m backstroke.

Weir also swam in five relay races over the weekend, winning another silver and two more bronze medals, while Henne added gold and silver in two relays.

The only two local swimmers at the event, Weir and Henne competed in team races as part of the Toronto-based Trillium Y Masters team.

Henne, a retired jeweler, and Weir, who retired from her job as a Lambton College instructor last Christmas, have been representing Sarnia at Masters swim meets for three decades.

“It’s a lifestyle,” said Weir, who acts as coach for the duo and coaches a summer Masters (adult) class at the Sarnia Riding Club.

“We ease up on our training during the summer” after provincials and nationals, said Weir. “But not too much. We don’t want to regress.”

Weir said she does “a lot of walking … weight training and yoga” to stay in shape. “Swimming keeps you very limber and stretched out.”

Henne, meanwhile, is an avid cyclist.

Weir stopped competing for two years a decade ago after being struck by a mysterious ailment, probably a virus, that damaged the nerves on the upper right side of her body, she said.

“I could barely use my arm for about six months. My doctor said the nerves would grow back … He was right, but it was a difficult time, mentally, for me. It was sometimes hard to persevere and not get depressed.”

Henne has been remarkably injury-free apart from a few “nagging aches and pains.”

The only issue that resulted in significant time off followed a cross-Canada cycling trip in the 1990s when he was 64, the oldest in the group.

Weir says she and Henne now treat all aches and pains seriously.

“We’re both doing this with the thought of it being a lifelong pursuit,” she said. “If we start to feel sore, we ease off.”

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