Joanne Malar, double gold medalist at the 1995 World Short Course Championships.

When Joanne Malar was nominated for the President's Award at McMaster University, the selection committee needed a list of everything she had done. She and her coach made a detailed list of all her swimming accomplishments, but the committee called back and said they wanted all the things she did. When the final lists went in, Joanne's list of volunteer work was longer than the swimming, and that list is long.

Few people know about all the volunteer things she does in the community all over her hometown of Hamilton; she appears on posters against drinking and works for the Lung Association. And people forget, she's at school full time.

While Joanne thrives on the kind of publicity and prestige that have come her way, she knows how to take it all in stride and stay in touch with the real world. Her example of dedication, organization, compassion and generosity is a credit to the sport.

If the crowd loves Joanne, that's because Joanne loves the crowd. She plays to the crowd instead of letting it intimidate her. After her record swim in the 400 IM at the Olympic Trials in Montreal, she acknowledged the crowd. She split 33 and 32 on her last two 50s and she knew that, had the crowd not been there, she probably wouldn't have done it.

"Thank you folks, you really helped me out there," she said.

1996 Olympic Team Member Joanne Malar
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

The recognition was honest. Joanne knows better than most that giving is a big part of being the best at what you do. And whether she's giving her all in the water, giving her time to a charity, or giving a word of encouragement to a friend, the bottom line is that she's doing what she loves.

"I enjoy myself," she says. "If you're not enjoying what you're doing then that much dedication and sacrifice isn't worth it. I love swimming, and I love to do things for the community. You've just got to go after your dreams and never give up."

And what about Atlanta?

"I'm just going to go there and give my 100%, and that might be good enough to win a medal, it might not. But no matter what place I come it's not going to change how I've prepared and all the work I've put into it."

Gaye Stratten, Joanne Malar's coach and Coach of the Year for 1995 .

What is the program for Joanne as you approach the Atlanta Olympics?

Everything has been focussed on getting through the Trials and now we have to sit down and plan from here on. I think we'll probably fit into the National Team plans for training camps in Hamilton, Vancouver and Gainesville. We don't like to do a lot of meets before the big meet.

So the emphasis will be primarily on training?

Yes. Joanne's done a lot of competing; she swam in the World Short Course Championships already this year, and she swam the Pan Am Games within the last twelve months. We like to use Nationals as a lead through that. At the Calgary Nationals last November we chose our events to set up the World Championships. I think kids in Canada have to put more emphasis on preparing to swim well outside the country. We try to focus on that end, with Nationals as a preparation for that, rather than the end itself.

Joanne always swims a lot of events wherever she goes and seems to do well on that.

Can you tell us a bit about how she ticks?

Joanne's an IM swimmer and you have to be able to swim all four strokes. We like to try all the events. I don't think you have to train alot of IM to swim the event well. You have to be prepared to swim different portions of the race and that's why, in the past, Joanne has often swum her off events.

Joanne Malar
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

We're always looking to the future, and we're still learning. At the World Championships she had a great first day and had real trouble recovering. We're not that set on our plans; we know what it takes for her to do well, we know how much work she has to do, and she rests more than most people too.

Joanne is unique in that she has the ability to do well when it counts. I'd be hard pressed to find an international competition where she hasn't done her best.

She's done a lot of back-to-back events for Canada-at the World Championships she anchored the 4x200 relay 12 minutes after the 400 IM. That took a lot out of her, so we're still trying to figure out which will be the best events for her to swim at the Olympic Games.

PLACE Hamilton
HEIGHT 5 ft. 8 in. / 172 cm
WEIGHT 128 lbs / 58 kg
HOME Hamilton, Ontario
REPRESENTS Hamilton-Wentworth AC
COACH Gaye Stratten
95 SC Worlds 10th 200 IM 2:14.56,1st 400 IM 4:36.40, 1st 4x200 free relay
95 Pan Pacs 2nd 200 IM 2:15.45, 4th 400 IM 4:46.50
95 Pan Ams 1st 200 IM 2:15.66, 1st 400 IM 4:43.64
94 Worlds 4th 400 IM 4:44.79
93 SC Worlds 9th 200 IM 2:14.35, 7th 400 IM 4:42.15
92 Olympics 11th 400 IM 4:48.52

Current Canadian record for 400 IM 4:43.39

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