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Athlete profile: Daniela Barnea

Palo Alto resident is world-record-setting swimmer

Sport: Swimming

Age: 65

Occupation: Foreign language tutor for the Palo Alto Unified School District

Challenge: "To stay in a range of health and fitness that allows me to train daily, improve my personal times and challenge the fastest records in my age group."

Education: B.A. Graphic Design, The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel

Family: Husband Steve; son Jon (31); daughters Mishkie (28) and Shelley (25)

Residence: Palo Alto

Daniela Barnea was born a fitness junkie. Growing up, if there was a way to be active she was doing it. When she turned 15, she joined the Jerusalem YMCA swimming team. The team competed throughout Israel; at this age, Barnea was more interested in camaraderie than competition.

After high school, Barnea took a break from swimming and played basketball in a women's league. It was not until years later and oceans away that she heard her true calling as a competitive athlete.

Barnea moved to California in the 1970's where she and her husband raised three children, enrolled in various sports. Their favorite was swimming. Being around the pool so often with her children inspired her to pull out her old Speedo, put on her swim cap and goggles, and jump in again herself. The rest is history. She joined a Masters team and made a name for herself as a star breaststroker and butterflyer.

After Barnea underwent major surgery in 2005, she thought it would be very difficult to get back into competing. She surprised herself and gradually achieved better times and even a world record. At some swim meets, Barnea competes against women much younger because they are seeded according to time rather than age.

Today, Barnea trains either in the pool or at the gym every day. Her workout regime includes cross training, weight training, yoga and Pilates. In 2009, her first National Senior Games, she broke National records for six swim competitions. In 2010, Barnea became a FINA world record holder in the 200 butterfly and was named All American for placing first in more than 20 events in one season, some of which were Pacific and National records for the 65-69 age group.

On March 26 at Stanford at the 2011 Bay Area Senior Games/California State Senior Games Championships, Barnea will compete against women ages 65-69 in the 50 breast, 50 fly, 100 breast, 100 fly and 200 im (individual medal).

Barnea attributes her determination to her passion to stay healthy as she ages and owes her success to the motivation and support that she receives from her loving family, friends and coaches. She believes that exercise of every kind can enhance people's quality of life physically, emotionally and socially, and hopes her example will inspire others to stay active, make healthy choices and set new goals as they age.

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