Jennifer Button

2000 Sydney – Jennifer Button

At five foot four inches tall, Jennifer Button was the shortest on the national team headed for the 2000 Olympic Games.

But her stature did little to hamper her. Button would go on to be one of the fastest female butterfly swimmers in the country.

Button, who started swimming with ROW at 13 when her family moved to Waterloo from Alberta, said she dreamed of competing in the Games when she watched American gymnast Mary Lou Retton win Olympic gold in 1984.

By 16, there were many successes and she was doing well in provincial competitions.

“Swimming was my life. High school was driven around my swim schedule. It dominated my social life,’’ said Button, who graduated from Bluevale Collegiate Institute.

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Button, who trained under Dean Boles, said qualifying for the 2000 Games was her proudest moment.

“When I saw that I had made it, my dad was crying and Dean was screaming,’’ she said.

Button qualified for four events: she placed 20th in 100 metre butterfly, 17th in 200 metre butterfly, fifth in 4x200 metre freestyle and sixth in 4x100 metre medley race.

Button recalls feeling crushed when she came in 17th, knowing that the top 16 swimmers in the opening 200 metre butterfly race went on to the semifinals.

Button returned home and trained hard in the pool and out with weight-lifting and yoga. She was among the best swimmers in the country, holding the record in 100 metre butterfly.

Button finished her studies at the University of Toronto, obtaining a degree in physical education.

Button jumped back into competitive swimming full time, training with the U of T team but was unable to land a spot on the Olympic swim team in 2004.

“Mentally I didn’t have the motivation. The spark wasn’t there,’’ said Button, who then went to Lausanne, Switzerland to earn a master’s in sports administration from the International Academy of Sports Science and Technology.

Button, 32, now works for the Canadian Olympic Committee in Toronto in their marketing department working with national sponsors.

Button, who also coached with ROW, did come coaching with the Toronto Swim Club but doesn’t see herself as a coach.

Button said because of swimming, she has a confidence in herself and an ability to set goals and achieve them.

“No matter what will come whether it’s a job interview or a presentation, it is not as nerve-wracking as standing in front of thousands of people at the Olympics,’’ she said.

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