Every five years or so, Dennis Manrique will "come
out of the woodwork,"
just to see if he still has that old aquatic magic left in him.
Manrique was a high school swimming star at Detroit
Western and then
collegiately at Michigan State University.
He was twice named Macomb County's top coach between
1972 and 1980,
while he was the swimming skipper at Warren Woods Tower High
He then spent one year as the swimming coach at Macomb
where his team set 17 of the school's 19 swimming records that year
So when Manrique's latest five-year itch arrived,
there was little doubt
that the lifelong swimmer would succeed.
However no one, including Manrique himself, could have
how much success the 51-year-old Macomb Township resident would enjoy
"I was kind of surprised," Manrique said. " I didn't
realize I was in
that good of shape."
The former water polo player/coach at Michigan State,
since his most
recent return to the water, has broken five state records, won six gold
medals at the World Senior Games in October 1997, and won six gold
and the high-point trophy for his age group at the most recent state
held at Eastern Michigan University.
How's that for surviving a mid-life crisis?
"It seems like when you are younger, you know you are
and growing stronger," Manrique said. "I Don't know where that waning
is, or whether, if I trained harder, I'd be going faster, because I
the age factor. It keeps surprising me every time I get in the water,
when I'm concentrating on longer distances. I have some good fortune in
Good fortune is probably an understatement. After six
months of training
for the 1996 Swimming Masters national championships held on the campus
of the University of Michigan, Manrique competed in the state meet at
In 1997, Manrique competed in the Huntsman World
Senior Games in Utah,
swimming away with six gold medals.
"It was pretty exciting just to go that far,"Manrique
said of his trek
to Utah. "I haven't really gone that far before for a meet. They had
from all over, Switzerland, Japan, the Ukraine, and then there was a
contingent from California, so it was a pretty good feeling."
The senior business analyst at Electronic Data
Systems is currently
ranked in the top ten in the world in his age group (50-54) in the
individual medley and the 1,500 meter.
Despite his accomplishments, Manrique still believes
the joy of swimming
comes not from winning, but from the sport itself and from meeting new
people and seeing old friends.
"Meeting people is probably the best part of it,"
Manrique said. "It's
amazing how small the world is. I went out to Utah and met a woman who
taught at my elementary school. That aspect of it is the most
what new friends can you meet."
On the horizon for Manrique is the World Federation
Championships in Casablanca, Morocco, in June.
"There's a possibility," Manrique said of competing in
the event. "Potentially
I could go. Right now, I'm looking for some sponsorship. There's a
that could happen."
All of Manrique's swimming success can be traced back
to his days with
the Patton Aquatic Boosters Club at the Detroit Parks and Recreation
"I keep running into some of my old teammates,"
Manrique said. "One
of our old teammates actually put together a web site and we all keep
touch through that."
"Through a three-year period, we actually had more
than 200 swimmers.
A lot went on to college ranks, and some actually did make Olympic
So how do Manrique and his teammates feel about their
"Compared to now, we all look at each other and
laugh," Manrique said.
No one is laughing at Manrique's current or past
successes. In fact,
the current owner of five state records in his age group broke the
States record for the 200-yard long course breaststroke at an age group
meet in Ohio in 1965.
Unfortunately, that record didn't last very long-about
a week to be
"Records are made to be broken, I guess," Manrique
And who better to ask but Manrique?
He is becoming an expert on that subject.