A swimmer with no muscle-use in his legs did something last weekend no other Canadian has done before.
Riley Martin, a para-athlete from Oliver who now lives in Peachland, became the first Canadian in his classification to successfully complete a 400-metre individual medley swim last Saturday, June 4.
The swim, often referred to as one of the sport’s most grueling events, requires the athlete to travel 400 metres in the pool using each of the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle techniques. It took Martin 12.37 minutes to complete the medley, the first of his class in Canada to officially record a time in the event.
“So proud of him…I’m at practice all the time and saw how much time he put into this,” said swim coach Naomi Antler who lives in Keremeos. “This is a hard event, no matter your circumstances, and he just nailed it.”
Martin is an SM5 para-swimmer, among the classifications that describe the involvement of an athlete’s disability on a scale of one to 10.
In 2009, the 29-year-old was in a serious car accident. Since then, the Peachland resident has had no muscle use from his upper chest and down to his legs.
“I felt so relieved,” Martin said in the aftermath of his swim. “If you told me at the beginning of the season that I would be able to do all four strokes and put them together for a Canadian record…that would surprise me.”
The Okanagan swimmer was able to set the national record on Saturday thanks to KISU Penticton and its organized time trial. Since getting official para-classification in May, Martin has had the opportunity to take a crack at as many records as he wants.
As per the national standards of the 400-metre individual medley, the swimmer must complete 100 metres of the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle in exact order.
Martin explained how the butterfly technique, in particular, is a very core and leg-intense stroke. With his disability classification, though, adjustments had to be made for that to be even attempted.
“It’s hard to say if the record will ever be broken because there’s nothing else to compare this to,” his coach said.
The 29-year-old KISU Swim Club member will be at a meet this weekend in Kamloops with history on his mind yet again. Martin will attempt to set the record for the 200-metre event in the SB4 disability class.