Photo courtesy of  Taylor Brien 


“Bobby Yribarren glances briefly at the opponents to his right as he waits behind the starting block, quickly returning his gaze to the furiously churning turquoise waters at his feet. From an outside standpoint he is like every other swimmer on deck–perhaps a bit nervous, but absorbed in his personal goals for the event. But Yribarren is anything but similar to the young men he is swimming against.

In fact, he is much older than they are.

It has quite literally been a long and winding road for Yribarren to get to this point. The thirty-year-old Harvard University graduate is the oldest swimmer at the 2016 CeraVe Invitational by a wide margin–a whopping six years separates him from the next oldest competitor. In no way has this dissuaded him from returning to the pool.

“It’s definitely humbling, but I’m really happy for the other swimmers,” Yribarren explained of the unusual phenomenon that comes from competing against swimmers 10+ years his junior. “It’s really great to see how fas the sport is getting. A lot has changed [since I was swimming D1].”

“It’s been a process to get him back into any kind of swimming shape,” admitted Badgers head coach John Collins. “We’re happy to have him because he’s a good middle distance, open water type swimmer, and he trains well with the group that I have right now.”

Collins has been coaching the thirty-year-old for just over five months now, as Yribarren found his team in September of 2015. Prior to joining the Badgers, it had been two years since he hit the water competitively. It was during that time period that he went through many changes, the most notable being physical.

“I was 260 pounds at one point,” Yribarren explained. “I couldn’t even see my toes.”

“That’s a big drop, right?” he joked with a thousand-watt smile lighting up his face. Despite continually facing a great deal of adversity, Yribarren speaks passionately and enthusiastically, even about a difficult time in his life. Rather than see it as a road block, Yribarren chooses to see that time period as a “lifestyle change.” It is this optimistic attitude that he believes is crucial in handling the pressure of a competitive swimmer.” [READ MORE]

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