Pals Limpert and Malar put on show
By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun
MONTREAL -- Joanne Malar and Marianne Limpert have always been fast, but not fast
However, after more than a decade together on the national swim team, they
finally have become pool pals, and that has the dynamic duo feeling great
about their swimming and themselves.
"We were just talking about that at the nationals (in March)," Limpert, 27,
said. "In the past, there was a rivalry that carried outside the pool, for no
apparent reason. So at the nationals, we sat around for three hours and talked
about boys, after the competition was over, (and decided) there was no reason
for us not to like each other."
Thankfully for the Canadian swim program, they've decided that they still
like to beat each other in the pool. And that resulted in a great 200-metre
individual medley final last night at the Olympic swim trials.
Malar and Limpert finished 1-2, hitting the clock in two minutes, 14.38
seconds and 2:14.63, respectively -- the third and fifth fastest times in the
world this year. Malar, 24, had already been pre-selected for the Sydney Games
and Limpert's performance last night put her on the team as well. That marks
the third Olympic Games for both.
The difference this time is, in the past, the two Canadian swim stars were
almost teams unto themselves. Heading to the 1996 Atlanta Games, where Limpert
and Malar placed second and fourth, behind Testosterone Tessie, a.k.a.
Michelle Smith, they hardly spoke. And that, both insist now, did not make for
a healthy environment at the Games, even though both swam well.
They much prefer it this way.
"It's so good to feel like this," said Malar, whose 2:13.63 at the 1999 Pan
Pacific meet at the Sydney Olympic pool was the second-fastest time in the
world last year. "It's nice that we're mature enough to talk about these
"We never disliked each other," the Hamilton native said, "but at the same
time, when you're that competitive and both are competing for Olympic medals,
you don't hang out. We never roomed together, (but) Marianne and I are getting
to that stage that if we room together (in Sydney) we would be fine and we
both do like each other. We both know this is probably our last Olympics and
we wish each other well."
"When we're on the blocks, we can hate each other's guts," Fredericton
native Limpert said. "But when we get out of the pool, well, she's a great
girl, I love talking to her. I have a lot of respect for her. It's settled now
as a healthy rivalry."
"It was a stupid thing," Malar said. "But it's so good now, because so many
competitors in our country have that kind of rivalry and that's not healthy.
"We're not against each other."