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Profiling Diana Silva

From China to England to the U.S.

Marilyn Fink | January 26, 2002

The granddaughter of a missionary who traveled from England to China in 1878, and the daughter of an importer/exporter on mainland China, Diana Marguerite Candlin Silva was born in Tientsin, China, in 1922. Having only splashed around in the ocean and never having dived into a pool, at the age of 11 she entered her first pool race, an event she fondly remembers as a "disaster." Diving in so deep she didn't think she'd ever come up, she flapped around and finally reached the surface for a gasp of air. It took attempts at the breaststroke, backstroke, and crawl to reach the finish end.

While attending boarding school on Jersey Channel Island off the coast of England in 1941, Diana excelled in backstroke and won engraved silver spoons for her efforts. Imagine swimming in a 110-meter long salt-water pool that filled when the tide came in and emptied when it went out!

Back in China as a young adult and working as a secretary at a British bank, she swam regularly at the beautiful Tientsin Country Club's indoor 25 meter pool. During World War II, she was interned for three years in the Weihsien Civilian Assembly Center (Internment Camp), and after release went back to work as a secretary, first for the American Office of Strategic Services, then for the Shell Oil Co. She met and married a Marine stationed in China and in 1947 came to the U.S., while her parents and brother relocated to Australia. A quonset hut on the Marine base at Camp Pendleton served as her first "home."

The rewarding but sometimes difficult task of raising two daughters as a military wife kept Diana on the move. As the girls grew older and became fond of the water too, Diana was a devoted mom carpooling them to swimming practices and meets. In 1977 she took up swimming again for herself and at age 55 became a member of San Diego Swim Masters.

While working as an elementary school librarian Diana kept wet attending 6:00 a.m. workouts. Since retiring in 1993, she has had more time to travel to Masters meets outside her LMSC, and has attended several USMS National Championships. Having moved into the 75-79 age group in 1997 she continued to add her name to the record books at the local, national, and world levels. She looks forward to aging up to 80 in April of 2002.

San Diego Swim Masters, by Marilyn A.S. Fink (Silva's daughter and a Masters swimmer)

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