The fall of 2012 was a major landmark in the lives of Bisons swimmers Dillon Perron and Kimberly Moors, marking a second chance for both of their CIS careers.
Perron, 24, had originally swam with the team in 2010, while Moors, 29, had started in 2004. Neither, however, was quite happy with where they were academically and chose to take some time off. Though their stories may be slightly different – with Moors taking a more extended break – fate brought the two sprint distance swimmers back in the fall of the same year and neither have looked back since, leaving a permanent mark on the Bisons swimming program.
Perron’s accomplishments over the years have included a first place finish in the 50- and 100-metre breakstroke at the 2012 Canada Cup (shattering two Bisons’ and provincial records), as well as four medal finishes in the past two years at the CIS National Championships. Last season, Moors became the first Bisons women’s swimmer to medal at the National Championships since 2006, and followed that up with a silver medal in the 50-metre butterfly in this year’s championships.
While their time with the program has officially come to a close, both swimmers have nothing but fond memories of the past four years and have also learned a fair amount of about themselves in the process. For Moors, a dedicated single mother, her return to the pool was beneficial both mentally and emotionally.
“I feel like I found myself a little bit. I was kind of going through some personal issues in my life, so I just kind of joined swimming to heal myself and I wanted to be a strong role model for my daughter as well,” Moors said.
“I think now that I’m towards the end of swimming, and I’m graduating, it’s like wow, I did all this. I just feel like I can do anything I put my mind to now.”
Perron was quick to emphasize the enjoyment aspect.
“I think, as cliché as it sounds, just learning to have fun [swimming]. You go through phases where you feel like you’re not having success in the sport and it feels a lot like work – not fun work,” Perron said.
“Especially this past year, I knew it was probably going to be my last year swimming and definitely my last year with the varsity team obviously, and just trying to enjoy it and really have fun in the water, so that’s kind of the way I attacked the CIS national championships this [past] weekend – just to remind myself to have fun while racing. I think that’s probably one of my biggest takeaways.”
For Moors, her biggest takeaway has been the ability to manage tension and anxiety.
“You learn that sometimes you just can’t control everything,” Moors said. “Sometimes my daughter is sick and I’m like ‘oh no, I can’t go to school or make swim practice and now I’m going to have to make up that swim practice,’ so for me, it’s just learning how to balance my roles and coping with stress.”
“I think I’m a better mom, because I’m able to tackle and organize my life in a certain way, so I just feel like I’m overall a better parent and even a better student, because swimming and training that much in a week, plus doing the schoolwork, that takes discipline as well.”
Both standout athletes have become role models to their teammates due to their perseverance both inside and outside the classroom. Perron, for example, struggled with his grades when he first enrolled at the U of M and has now became an Academic All-Canadian.
“A lot of the determination and competitiveness that I have within myself has translated into school, so that’s obviously one thing that I took from the sporting world and was able to apply to my academics and it worked out really well,” Perron said.
“Obviously you don’t enjoy every course you take, but for me, I just wanted to see if I could get an A in this course just because I wanted to, and it’s the same thing I do in the water.”
Being a mature student, Moors has generated considerable respect from her teammates due to her past accomplishments as well as life experience.
“Since I’m a mom, I kind of feel like a lot of the girls have looked up to me. I’ve driven a lot on the meets, so at the end of the meets, I do a three highlights of the meet, and the girls just love it, so I like to think that we’re both [herself and Perron] positive role models,” Moors said.
Swimming-wise, both Perron and Moors will head off to the Olympic trials in just over a month , and each have stated that will likely be the final event in their competitive swimming careers. Moors will graduate with her kinesiology degree this April and is planning to take a year off to be a personal trainer and then apply to get into occupational therapy. Perron will continue his involvement as a swimming coach with the Junior Bisons as well as his own company, which he started last summer.
When asked if they plan to maintain a presence with the swim team after the year is done, both agreed unanimously that they would.
“It’s a really weird feeling getting ready to wrap it up, so I think it would be nice to kind of keep the ties,” Perron said.