A young Saskatoon man who made his mark on the water didn’t just compete against the world’s best, he took the world record and obliterated it.
Nolan Barnes’ world changed 10 years ago when he was involved in a car crash that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
That same year he started water-skiing and met his future coach, Dave Wassill.
“He saw (sic) some potential in me and said you can make the national team,” Barnes recalled.
“He said one day you can head to the world championships, and I thought he was crazy because I was a horrible skier at the time with no confidence.”
Barnes said it was cool to have someone who believed in him.
“The component he was missing was forensic balance and more strength,” Wassill said.
“So he connected with an excellent life coach and strength coach and as a result, he is currently the best in the world.”
The 27-year-old adaptive water-skier earned that distinction this summer with his performance at the world championships in Norway.
He is now the world record holder in slalom in his classification.
“Nolan shattered the world record, he didn’t break it. What people have to understand is that he took a score at 1,000-points and he increased it to 1,363-points,” Wassill said.
“That’s a 36 per cent improvement on the world record. That’s not an inch in the high jump, that’s like two feet.”
Barnes said it’s impossible to put his feelings into words at being a world champion.
“To be, for a moment of my life, the best in the world at something, is a feeling that I can’t describe,” Barnes said.
“I always thought I could do it, I kind of knew I could do it. I thought I would have known what the feeling is like, but there is no feeling like that. It just felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
Barnes said he sees himself staying with the sport and giving back to the youth and future world record holders.
“We have the best adaptive ski program in the country, here in Saskatoon. So giving back is just the ultimate reward,” he said.
“And seeing people then give back after you have helped them is an even better reward.”