Nelson’s swimming star Marylee Banyard has died – Nelson Star

Marylee Banyard, a swimmer from Nelson who after retirement became a star at the 55+ BC Games, died at her home on May 3. She was 87 years old.

Banyard was born in South Africa, raised in Zambia and immigrated with her family to Canada in 1974. She was born with dysplasia in both hips, which hampered her walking but also encouraged her to stand to swimming.

“Walking is hard,” Banyard told the Nelson Star in 2016. “But when you step into the pool, you have complete freedom. I think a lot of people who have had hip replacement surgery would tell you that. In the water you are free, because you don’t have that gravity to pull you down.

In Nelson, she and her husband Colin raised four daughters while Banyard worked as a teacher. She retired in 1998 and joined a senior swimming group, the Cocoons, which led to her beginning to compete at the provincial level.

At the BC Senior Games, which later became the 55-plus BC Games, Banyard became a regular podium presence. From 2003 to 2018, Banyard won an impressive 68 medals (27 gold, 19 silver, 22 bronze).

Part of his success is his willingness to compete in all types of swimming events except the breaststroke, which relies on the legs for power. Banyard’s specialty was butterfly and his performance inspired other local swimmers to try the discipline.

On Wednesday, two of Banyard’s medals and several of his pins were included in the Nelson Sports Collection during a ceremony at the Nelson and District Community Complex.

“You focus more on looking good and how you do it,” she said of her sport. “It’s a nice thing to do. It is a very graceful thing. Swimming is very graceful.

@tyler_harper | [email protected]

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