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Sergeant James Zubriski wins four medals at CAF Swimming Championships

By Martin Zeilig 

Sergeant James Zubriski, a Ranger Instructor with 4 Ranger Control Group Charlie Company, made a big splash in the pool at the Canadian Armed Forces 2024 National Swimming Championships in Markham, Ontario at the end of March.

He competed in the Masters, 30-39 category.

He won three gold medals in individual events: 200 metre freestyle, 200 individual medlay, 100 metre butterfly. Sgt Zubriski also competed in the 800 metre freestyle, but no medals were awarded.

The competition took place at a public pool in conjunction with the Ontario Provincial Masters Championships, Sgt Zubriski said during an interview on May 14.

A native of Winnipeg and a fulltime Class ‘B’ Reservist, Sgt Zubriski is a graduate of Kelvin High School and the University of Manitoba (Bachelor of Arts in Classics).

“I started out in triathlon at age 12,” Sgt Zubriski said.

“My brother was in the Manitoba Marlins swim club at the time. I was told that if you want to be a great triathlete you have to be a great swimmer.”

So, he joined his brother at the Marlins at age 13, which, as Sgt Zubriski noted, is a bit late because most children join at a younger age.

“But, I loved it and stayed in swimming,” he said, remarking that he also played hockey up until age 13.

“I was with the Marlins in junior high and high school. I competed at age group nationals and Western Canadian Championships, and competitions all over Canada. I did pretty good. I finished in the finals in most of my events.”

Then, he swam for the U of M Bisons.

“In high school I specialized in distance events, but at university I switched to 200 metre butterfly, the IM, and 200 metre freestyle. I did okay in my university career. I swam multiple times at the Canada West Championships and finished in the finals in a couple of events.”

The 6’1,” 200-pound athlete finished his university swimming career in 2014.

“I took a couple of years off from swimming,” Sgt Zubrisky said.

“After the pandemic in 2022, I wanted to get back in the pool and start swimming again. There is a great masters club here in Winnipeg out of Pan Am Pool.

“It’s super affordable. I’m able to swim three or four times a week, and now I’m back into triathlon. So, I’m also running and cycling.”

He also commented that the competition at the recent CAF Nationals had a good mix of swimmers, including some individuals who only started swimming later in life.

“That’s what’s good with the CAF, it’s pretty inclusive,” he continued.

“If you’re dedicated and want to compete in it you can still participate, even if you pick up swimming later in life.”

Sgt Zubriski’s has now registered for his first Iron Man Triathlon in Wisconsin on September 8.

“I’m hoping to be under 13 hours,” he said.

“I ran my first marathon last year. I’m not a great runner by any means. I just enjoy it. I train every day. You have to put in time for the triathlon.”

He also added that he’s “looking forward” to competing in next year’s CAF National Swimming Championships.

“I’m hoping to do even better (than at this year’s championship),” Sgt Zubriski stressed.

He’s a man on a mission in the swimming pool, and in life.




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