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Joanne Bradley - Active for Life

For retired Warrant Officer Joanne Bradley winning is not about being first across the finish line. As a member of Team Canada, she has shown time and again that the victories we remember rarely involve gold medals.

At the 2020 Marine Corps Trials in San Diego, Joanne Bradley impressed the audience when she slowed her pace during the 1500-meter race to support a competitor from another nation. It was a great way to illustrate that for Team Canada, winning is about more than first place.

Despite suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Bradley is a strong runner, so this race was her best chance at the gold. And while she still secured the silver, medals were never what her Invictus experience was about.

When Bradley arrived at Team Canada’s first training camp in Valcartier last September, she didn’t pick her sports based on what she thought she could excel at. Instead, she selected those that would challenge her and prompt her to grow the most.

“I grew up afraid of water,” Bradley says. “I never thought I’d be able to put my face under the surface.”

In an effort to conquer this childhood fear, Bradley picked swimming and started the process of learning from scratch.

“Completing my first 25 meters without stopping was a huge deal,” she remembers.

At the Marine Corps Trials in San Diego, Joanne completed 100 meters without stopping for the first time.

“I might have gotten a bit teary, but luckily in the water nobody can tell,” she says. “I’m discovering that I’m more capable of doing things than I thought I was. In the water, everything works properly. I feel free and graceful!”

A person in a pool of water

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The photo shows Bradley at the first training camp in Valcartier in September, where coach Denis Clouthier held out a pool noodle ahead of her. “It was there so that I could grab it if I got scared. And I did because I was,” she remembers.

Six months later, Bradley was racing, without noodle. “I even dove in for the 50-meter freestyle; the other races I started in the water,” she says. “My victories were really in the swimming. That’s where I am the most proud of myself!”