An integral part of Swimming Canada’s mission is to inspire Canadians to be active and healthy. Masters Swimmers are the embodiment of this. Swimming Canada recognizes that Masters Swimmers are magnificent ambassadors and advocates for our sport, both with their friends and families, and within the community at large. Whether training for fitness or to compete, all Masters Swimmers are an essential part of the Swimming Canada family.

Swimming Canada aims to provide the best possible support to the Masters Swimming community, working collaboratively with the provincial sections, to provide meet sanctioning, coach certification, official certification, club services, insurance, etc.   Swimming Canada’s close relationship with our international partners provides recognition of Swimming Canada events and of our member Swimmers’ performances.

October 28, 2020

Meet Vona MacMillan, Campbelton Aquatika Club

Vona MacMillan

Vona MacMillan is a 52-year-old Family Physician who swims with, and also coaches, the Campbellton Aquatika Club in New Brunswick. Vona has swum all her life for exercise however only began competing when she joined Masters in 2004.

Running her own family medicine practice, which aIso includes hospital call obligations, she organizes her schedule to fit two swim practices in a week with her club. She does extra workouts on her own when she can and also completed a few swims in the Bay of Chaleur during the pool closures this past spring and summer. The Bay of Chaleur is a bit of a misnomer as it’s average water temperature in July and August off the shores of Campbellton is only 14º C.

As the present coach of the team Vona keeps track of all swimmers distances and times swum in workouts. She presented her swimmers, at the end of the last season, with a medal, individualized with their distance swum on the back. The distance swum is also converted into how far they have swum in a southerly direction from their home pool. Vona also submitted the participation of herself and her team mates in the Swimming Canada Monthly Challenges during the 2019-2020. Vona contributes to the Campbellton Aquatika Club as a member of their executive for the past several years and as a level III certified official taking time to train and encourage new officials.

In the masters’ program Vona learned all the strokes, turns and starts. She has competed in both the pool and open water at regional and national meets. The great coaches over the years, particularly those who encouraged participation in competitions and team mates who also competed have made competitions a fun activity which brings their team closer. Vona’s favorited part of a swim meet is when she is in the water competing in her events. The second is the social activities that follow. The warm-up period tops the list of least favorite part of a swim meet. Vona plans to compete in the next World Masters Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Passionate about the SPCA, she has two SPCA rescue dogs, she participates in the annual Restigouche SPCA fundraiser golf tournament which was started by her husband.

Living an active lifestyle that includes biking, walking, hiking and skiing, Vona describes swimming as ‘her everything’.

“It’s my form of exercise, my stress relief, my clear my mind activity, my social outing. I get stress relief and exercise from swimming. I continue swimming because I crave it.” – Vona MacMillan

October 14, 2020

Meet Detlev Grabs, Mégophias Trois-Rivières

Detlev Grabs is a 60-year-old who swims with the Mégophias Trois-Rivières. Detlev is a professor of anatomy at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), the appointment which brought him to Canada 13 years ago. Always more interested in science and sport, he will refrain from playing the flute or singing for us.

Detlev was born in East-Berlin and grew up in the German Democratic Republic where sport had an extraordinary value. He felt he fit right in. Detlev learned to swim at age five and started competing 2 years later. Through the GDR’S excellent recruitment program, he was chosen to attend a special sports school in Berlin at age 11. From there on he was destined to train hard and accomplish his school duties at the same time.

As a junior, he competed on the national and international level and in 1976 joined the senior National Team for the European Cup in Italy. He remained on the National Team until his retirement from competitive swimming in 1981 at age 21, at the European Championships. The highlight of his swimming career was the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

23.07.1980 – 23.07.2020
It’s been 40 years that my teammates Jörg Woithe, Frank Pfütze, Rainer Strohbach and myself won the Olympic silver medal in Moscow in the 4×200 free relay in 7:28.60 for the GDR. Some facts:
– we lowered our national record by 8.34 seconds
– we beat Brazil by 0.7 sec and if we would have been 2.23 seconds slower we would have finished 7th
– behind us were Sweden, Italy, Great Britain, Australia and France
Still a proud but distant memory.

Translation: Two pictures that tell a lot: Detlev Grabs of the GDR and Australian Mark Terry follow the battle of the final swimmers (left picture) in the 4X200m freestyle relay and their consecutive reactions after the final touch (right picture).

He worked at universities in Germany (Charité/Berlin), the USA (Yale/New Haven) and Switzerland (University of Fribourg) before becoming a full-time professor in Quebec.

During these years he continued to swim occasionally as time and opportunity were limited.

Since 2008 the pool has been just 3 minutes from his UQTR laboratory there was no way to bypass this opportunity to return to swimming. And while already being in the water multiple times a week, why not re-enter the competition scene as well. Detlev trains three times week between 2 and 3 km each session. Since the UQTR pool is in reconstruction workouts are between 7 and 9 pm, his wife accepts this crazy schedule that keeps him in shape.

Detlev had many swimming goals for 2020, his first year in the 60-64 age group. He did break 5 provincial records (QC) in the winter of 2020 and 2 Canadian long course records, in the 200 free and 200 back, in February 2020.

“Certainly, in this particular year everything was cut short. We stopped swimming in March as all of you and beside some dry land training and some lake sessions it took until September 8th to be back in the 25m pool. We will see what that means in the future. But we are back in the water, everything else will also fall in place. Until then, keep swimming and enjoying the challenges and the camaraderie around the pool. We will see each other in one of the next competitions to come.” – Detlev Grabs

October 7, 2020

Consult the COVID-19 Resource Hub for new information from Dr Steve Keeler.

Participate in the weekly challenges of Swimming Canada’s #SWIMAGAIN CHALLENGE.  Masters Challenges will resume in December.

September 30, 2020

Meet Shane MacMillan, Barrie Trojans Masters Swim Club

Shane MacMillan was swimming before he could walk. He has always felt more comfortable in the water than on land. Summers were spent swimming in the lake at the family cottage. He completed his Red Cross badges quickly and was poised to become a lifeguard. Life took at turn when Shane was fifteen, he was struck in the head with a bat and suffered a traumatic brain injury which still affects his life today at age 46. Following the brain injury Shane was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition where the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells of the spinal cord and brain are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of the nervous system to communicate, leading to a range of physical and mental issues, causing significant physical disability.

Subsequent to his injury, Shane followed the path of alcohol and substance abuse which lead him to altercations with the law. His renewed faith, substance-free lifestyle, including smoking cessation after many years and a return to the pool in his forties, as a member of the Barrie Trojans Masters Swim Club, have enhanced every aspect of his life from motivation, health, finances and family life.  A recognized PARA swimmer with an S10 sports class designation, Shane is setting his sights on international Paralympic competition. The return to swimming through the Masters program has been a logical step on this path providing coaching and competition opportunities which respond to his present needs and abilities.

Today the husband and father of two girls is a firm believer that swimming has been a healer for him and his renewed life.

September 1, 2020

Welcome to Swimming Canada’s new Masters page. We have responded to the suggestions from 2020 masters survey by creating a more easily navigable web page for you. We will continue to enhance the information found here regularly.

We look forward to hearing from you during the upcoming season.

We swim not to escape life, but so that life doesn’t escape us.


Cynthia Pincott — Ottawa
(613) 260-1348 x 2026
[email protected]
[email protected]




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