Swimmer Spotlight: Sonja Skinner

Sonja Skinner Age 39; Oregon City Tankers (OCT)
Salon owner/Hairstylist

Sonja Skinner

Sonja Skinner

I joined Masters Swimming  just over 4 years ago, with my first meet being the Canby Animal meet in 2011.  I fell back in love with swimming right away after feeling so disconnected from it.  I didn’t call myself a swimmer anymore, I was just a person who used to swim.  Now I’m a swimmer again!  When I talk about a swim meet people assume it’s for my kids.  I tell them ‘no’ and watch their confused faces as I explain Masters Swimming.  I use swim meets as feedback towards achieving my goals.  Something that I didn’t expect coming back to competitive swimming was all the great people I have met.  I have met people from all over Oregon that love swimming just as much as I do.

My most memorable Master swim moments to date both happened at this past Spring Nationals in San Antonio, TX.  In the 50 butterfly, I went a 26.69 and came in 3rd in my age group.  When I was younger I always thought that if the 50 fly event were offered, that would have been my thing!  So, it’s been awesome to be able to swim that event.  The facilities in San Antonio are AMAZING.  If you are going to swim fast it’s going to happen in that pool!  My next memorable moment was my last event on the last day of nationals.  I was feeling good after a great meet, though was a bit nervous anticipating the pain of a 200 IM at the end of a long meet.  I went into it with the mindset of leaving it all in the pool.  I ended up winning the race!  I went a 2:18.73.  I’m pretty sure that may be a lifetime best, although I’m not sure.  It was definitely a great moment.

I swim for the Oregon City Tankers, which has been a great experience.  For me it’s a chance to feel like a kid again.  Our coach, Tim Waud, is awesome and treats all the swimmers as equals regardless of experience.  The feel of the team is just like the feel of being on a kid’s team.  Tim writes the workouts and we do them.  It’s great getting the workouts done early.  We have great camaraderie among the team because there is only one option for workouts:  5am.  I love my Tankers.  I would not get out of bed so early for anyone else or any other sport!

I’ve always loved swimming.  As a kid it was something I was good at, and made me feel good about myself.  I gained a lot of confidence in myself from swimming.  In high school I took swimming a little bit more seriously.  It was fun setting goals for myself and trying to achieve them.  When I was younger I was really hard on myself when I didn’t reach certain goals.  When you’re young, you lack perspective.  As a Masters swimmer you have more perspective and awareness.  I still use swimming as a source of pride and confidence.  I also still really enjoy setting goals and trying to achieve them.  The difference now is I’m not so hard on myself.  In fact, I don’t even look at races the same at all.  I never see a race as a bad race.  I see it as, OK, what do I have to do next time to swim better?  If you’ve heard of the term “Flow”, that’s what swimming is for me.  It’s basically when you are fully immersed in a feeling of involvement and enjoyment in an activity.  Swimming is definitely one of the places in which I experience “Flow’” and I get to feel it every other morning.  Also, I get to swim with my sister Tessa!  It’s been an awesome journey together!  I feel very lucky!

Related: Sonja Skinner’s USMS Swimmer Info Page

Sonja recently purchased a small salon in Milwaukie, and worked hard to give it a refreshed, updated look.  She is re-energizing her career after working just one day a week for the past seven years in order to stay at home with her young children.  The salon’s grand opening was in January.  Sonja and her husband Shawn have two children – Simone, age 7 and Bryce, age 6.  In the summer, the family enjoys camping and hiking.


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