After taking 15 years off, Angie Abdou, local Dolphin Swim Club Coach, re-entered competitive swimming with a splash at the Alberta Provincial Championships taking first in every event she entered and breaking the standing provincial 1500m freestyle record by an astounding 36.42 seconds. This is a sport where firsts are often decided by .01’s of a second. A margin of a full second is considered substantial. Half minute margins are unheard of. 36 seconds is essentially a whole pool length ahead of the rest of the pack.
As a way of explanation Ms. Abdou said, “ I swam masters in Fernie before I had kids but stopped swimming for nearly 15 years after my daughter was born. I just got busy.”
By just getting busy she means teaching at College of the Rockies, finishing a Ph.D. at University of Alberta, moving a position on the faculty of Alberta’s Athabasca University, publishing five books, editing two more, and the tenure track requirement of numerous academic articles. And then there are the speaking engagements across North America, in Paris and the Writer in Residence in Singapore. The list goes on. Busy?
Ms. Abdou started swimming competitively at age four in Thunder Bay and continued through high school, finally swimming varsity for two years when she attended University of Western Ontario. When she first arrived in Fernie, she swam Masters for a few years, then as she said, “Got busy.”
“Coach Aidan Chudleigh has taught me a lot about swimming, even at my old age and with all my experience! I’ve never been a great pacer. I tend to go out like my head is on fire and die like a pig. Coach Aidan has been working really hard to teach me some common sense. He’s getting there. I admire his perseverance.”
Now at a mature 54, she is finding a new life in the pool.
“I’m very much a goal motivated person. Nothing is more fun to me than chasing down a goal. So Swim Canada is perfect in that way – it’s so organized with records and rankings and championships. That competitive element makes fitness so fun. At the end of the day, my swim racing is just about staying healthy and loving being active with my kids.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Ms. Abdou is looking forward to events in the future.
“When I first saw my 1500 time on the weekend, I was absolutely thrilled, but within ten minutes, I had already started thinking about how I could go faster next time. That’s another great thing about swimming, we can always find ways to improve!”
So after a brief celebratory jaunt to Vancouver, she’s heading back to the pool to prepare for future events.
“I’m very much a goal motivated person. Nothing is more fun to me than chasing down a goal. So Swim Canada is perfect in that way. It’s so organized with records and rankings and season championships. That competitive element makes fitness so fun. At the end of the day, my swim racing is just about staying healthy and loving being active with my kids.”
Not one to rest now that she’s “not busy,” at the Canadian Nationals in Calgary Ms. Abdou continued her winning ways taking Gold in the 100 Free, the 200 Free, and the 400 Free. For good measure she added a Silver in the 200 IM and an 8th in the 50 Fly.
Now in Japan at the Worlds, Ms. Abdou seems unstoppable today taking a Silver in the 800 Free.
“For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie before, I went out way too fast and finished the last half in a great deal of pain. It’s an oldie but a goodie. My smart ass ex-husband says not to worry, I still have piles of time to learn to pace. I’m barely half way into my swim career, if I race to 108.”
With more events are to come over the next ten days and we’ll keep an eye out on this remarkable run of medals by Angie Abdou.
Keith Liggett has a writing career with one foot in the literary and the other seeking a different angle within traditional journalism. Read more from Keith here.