the fun of it
World-ranked swimmer takes
laid-back approach to sport.
By Joe Block
Dennis Manrique, 51, wanted to find a way to stay in
shape. Two years
ago he decided to return to competitive swimming, and now he's one of
top endurance swimmers in the world.
In 1996, the Macomb Township resident began competing
years of coaching and recreational swimming. He found that he was
better times than he had ever had, even in high school.
"I don't know why," Manrique said. "I kind of took it
up just to stay
in shape. It was a surprise to see my times."
In October, Manrique earned six gold medals, a silver
and a bronze at
the 11th Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah.
Manrique isn't good only when compared to other
"senior" swimmers. He's
ranked in the top 10 in the world among all swimmers in the 400-meter
medley and the 1,500-meter.
"I'm beating some of the younger ones," Manrique said.
feel I could compete in some of the younger age groups."
Manrique thinks he, like others his age, went back to
to prove something.
"It's probably a midlife crisis thing," Manrique said.
"I think I wanted
to see where I was, that sort of thing."
While winning may be the only satisfaction for many of
Manrique said he finds swimming helps get his mind off things.
Macomb Daily Special Writer
He has been swimming competitively since age 8 and
knows what it's like
to be recognized nationally as a top swimmer. In his teens, he set
relay records. He set city records at Detroit Western High School. He
at Michigan State University, and he competed in the 1964 Olympic
for water polo. He broke the U.S. record for the 200-yard long course
Manrique coached at Warren Woods-Tower High School
from 1972 to 1980,
where he was named top county coach twice. Seventeen of 19 school
were set in his only year coaching at Macomb Community College.
There may be international competition on the horizon
His swimming manager is trying to convince him to compete in the World
Federation Master Swim Championships in Casablanca, Morocco, in
"With the Masters (Swim Championships), there's not
the pressure that
there was in high school," he said. "It's more of a social atmosphere,
almost like a reunion.
It's a different mindset than I had in high school.
Now I take it step
by step and ease into it."
Manrique doesn't take time off from work to train. The
analyst at Electronic Data Systems said he has other priorities. He
"get serious" about swimming unless there's a meet coming up.
"This just puts a little pressure on me to work out a
little bit harder,"