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A master of the water: Ciampa sets new swimming records on state and national level

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By Mickey Patterson

GOSHEN – It took Cindy Ciampa 24 years to return to swimming – it didn’t take her anywhere near that long to return to her familiar championship form.

Ciampa dove back into competition with the success she enjoyed before becoming a nurse and the mother of three children, all of whom took up the sport their mother grew up with and loved.

“Mainly watching the kids swim, I discovered I missed the competition,” Ciampa said. “I am one who likes records. I am trying to get a whole page or at least improve on the ones I already hold. I just love the competition.”

Swimming in the Masters program, Ciampa now holds seven state records and 12 records for the Crescent Hill Masters team in the 45-49 year-old division.

Earlier this summer, Ciampa competed at the national championships for masters in Austin, Texas, and won a medal in all six events she competed in.

She re-started her swimming career in Paducah when the oldest of her children expressed an interest.

True to form, when Ciampa discovered Paducah had no covered pool for year-round swimming, she led a drive that saw the city cover a pool for what has become one of the most successful year-round programs in the state.

She also coached the local youth teams helping them build a solid base.

“Swimming is a year-round sport and I just thought it was crazy not to have a place for people to swim in the winter,” Ciampa said. “I am really proud of the fact the pool down there has produced a swimmer who just won a full athletic scholarship and a swimmer who competed in the Olympic trials and just missed making the team in a short period of time.”

Ciampa started swimming at the age of nine in Albequerque, N.M, where she grew up.

At the age of 13, doctors discovered a tumor on her lower leg and one-third of tibia bone had to be removed.

To aid in her recovery, her parents sent her to a swimming camp in Texas run by Debbie Meyer, who had won three gold medals at the 1968 Olympics.

Meyer immediately noticed her talent and urged her parents to allow her to stay with host families in California to work under coach Sherm Chavoor who coached Meyer and Mark

Spitz.

She eventually swam in college at the University of Texax and competed in the 1976 Olympic trials.

Taking time off to raise her family and work, since coming back Ciampa has not only stepped back into the role of a competitive swimmer, but also as a coach taking over the fledgling NOHS program.

“They had never had their own coach before and I liked the idea of being to start something from the ground up like we did in Paducah,” Ciampa said. “I like the idea of coaching teams that aren’t already built.”

Ciampa’s specialty is the long distance freestyle races at 1,000 and 1,650-meters.

She also competes in the freestyle sprint and mid-range races along with the backstroke, butterfly and intermediate medley races.

She has no plans to walk away from the sport again.

“If my health holds up I hope to do it as long as possible,” Ciampa said. “I was so inspired at the nationals seeing a group of 90-year-old swimmers out there competing. Most of us just hope to still be around at that age and they were out there trying to set new records. I would like that.”

E-mail us about this story at:sports@oldhamera.com.a