Barbara Jardin: Reconquering her Olympic dream
In September 2014, Barbara Jardin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) during a visit to the hospital on her return from Corsica. For quite a few months, she’d been trying to cope with feeling weak and tired all the time, and now, she wanted to get to the bottom of it. More than once, her coach was surprised to find her propped up at the pool’s water line, trying to catch her breath, her vision blurred. A swimmer in the Canadian Olympic Team, and a finalist in the women’s 4 x 200-metre freestyle at the 2012 London Olympic Games, she nearly made the podium with her teammates.
Should she be giving up? She’d thought about it many times, huddling in the locker room, her fingers clutching the swim cap that bore her name. She even stopped training for several months, before she realized that intensive sports could help manage her diabetes. An athlete’s mental training is not that easily overcome. The smell of the pool, the blue line, the exhilaration felt when stepping on the diving board, the roar of the public in the stands as she came up for air… how could she give this up? For this shark lover, swimming is second nature, and part of a long Jardin family tradition passed from mothers to daughters!
When we met with Barbara last summer, she’d just signed up to return to competition, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that allowed her to raise over $8,500 to cover the cost of an insulin pump. The goal was clear: increasing her chances of getting back to a higher level, and qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. A champion through and through, Barbara also wanted to inspire other athletes, other diabetics, to fight for their dreams. Without any hesitation, she accepted the role of JDRF Ambassador, and became the face of the National Diabetes Awareness Month’s “T1D Looks Like Me” campaign throughout November 2015.
Bolstered by the wave of support she received from the entire T1D community, Barbara shared her story in the papers, on television, and in the social media. Barbara knows too well that qualifying for Rio 2016 won’t be easy. She knows the challenges that T1D will impose on her training and her qualifying time. But once in the water, everything comes together—chlorine, sweat and tears—and the temptation to send her insulin pump crashing against the wall quickly vanishes under the superior internal strength she draws from her determination. Hope and sacrifice are both sides of the same medal.
You can send Barbara letters of encouragement, photos and children’s drawings at:
615 René-Lévesque Boulevard West
Montreal, QC H3B 1P5
You can also make a donation to JDRF in honour of Barbara. We will send her a card on your behalf.