Article 021 c.1997
At 51,
he broke five state records

Swimming since high school, he is still winning medals


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 School. 
He then spent one year as the swimming coach at Macomb Community College, where his team set 17 of the school's 19 swimming records that year alone. 
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 expected just how much success the 51-year-old Macomb Township resident would enjoy this time around. 
"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 medals and the high-point trophy for his age group at the most recent state meet 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 getting older and growing stronger," Manrique said. "I Don't know where that waning point is, or whether, if I trained harder, I'd be going faster, because I have the age factor. It keeps surprising me every time I get in the water, especially when I'm concentrating on longer distances. I have some good fortune in it." 
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 Saginaw Valley University. 
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 swimmers from all over, Switzerland, Japan, the Ukraine, and then there was a good-sized 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 400-meter 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 enjoyable-like what new friends can you meet." 
On the horizon for Manrique is the World Federation Masters Swimming 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 possibility 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 Center. 
"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 in 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 teams." 
So how do Manrique and his teammates feel about their current condition?
"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 United 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 exact.
"Records are made to be broken, I guess," Manrique said.
And who better to ask but Manrique? 
He is becoming an expert on that subject.

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