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Meet Our 2012 Sponsored Athletes

We heard from more than 100 athletes in our search for the 2012 Coolibar Athlete Team. We then had the difficult task of narrowing down our list to an exceptional group that we hope will inspire others through their actions. Now, we’re proud to introduce our 2012 Coolibar Sponsored Athletes.

John Barker

John began competing in triathlons in 2007 and immediately took a liking to the sport. However, in 2010, he had to put his long term goal of completing an ironman on hold after donating a kidney to save a stranger’s life. Now, two years later, John shares how he’s getting back into training after his life changing experience. Read John’s story >

Molly Baross

Molly is a Master’s synchronized swimmer. Initially, Molly joined her current team, the Unsyncables of La Mirada, to help arthritic conditions and keep in shape. Now, she competes nationally at least once a year. Preparing for the competitions takes lots of practice, endurance and conditioning to be strong enough to hold your breath and do the complicated movements. Currently, Molly is preparing to compete in Riccione, Italy at the Fina World’s Aquatic Championships in June. Read Molly’s story >

Kristie Cranford

As a certified personal trainer, Kristie coaches others on how to be healthy on the inside, as well as the outside. As a melanoma survivor she’s passionate about sun safety, especially since becoming a Mom. Running is her passion, whether it is on a trail or the city streets. Now she’s taking her passion for running, and sun protection, to reach her goals of finishing an ultra marathon, become a USA Track and Field Masters All American, and reach as many people as possible with the message of sun protection. Read Kristie’s story >

Chad Grigsby

Chad is a professional angler on his 10th year as a full-time pro on the FLW Tour, the top level of tournament bass fishing. He holds seven top ten finishes on the Tour and one win. He spends more than 100 days a year on the water during practice and tournament days, sometimes up to 15 hours! Read Chad’s story >

Elena King

Elena is a Class A Member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division and a graduate of the University of Iowa where she was captain of the golf team for three years. She is an accomplished player with many individual titles both as an amateur and a professional. Now, blending her experience playing and coaching golf, she’s Director of Instruction through her company, Experience Golf, offering a comprehensive approach to the game including overall performance and player development. Read Elena’s story >

Marion Lepert

Marion is passionate about windsurfing and racing, traveling across the world to compete. What’s more is that she is doing this at age 16! After training hard, learning from top sailors, and finishing in the top five in three world championships in 2011, her new goal is to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games. Read Marion’s story >

Tania Prymak

Skiing is a large part of Tania’s life. After traveling to a ski resort in Oregon where elite US ski cross athletes were training, she knew it was something she had to do. Even though she has only two seasons of ski cross racing under her belt, she’s titled 2011 USASA Woman’s National Ski cross champion and the USSA Revolution Tour Champion. Tania’s serious about training, despite her setback of having kidney disease, and hopes to qualify for an Olympic spot in the future. Read Tania’s story >

Sara Snyder

Sara is an avid nature photographer, outdoor explorer and long distance hiker. At this very moment, she is on a 2,663 mile trek from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail. She’ll be living outdoors from April to October 2012, in face of all of mother nature’s elements. Read Sara’s story >

Peter Urban

Peter is a tennis guru, having played competitively for almost 30 years. He’s a USTA and CMITA league playing with a 4.5 ranking. He also enjoys staying active outdoors with surfing, skiing and running. In 2011, Peter discovered skin cancer on his back, but he hasn’t let that stop his passions, including finding the time to write a book on tennis! Read Peter’s story >

Jeremy Van Ek

Jeremy—finance professional by day, proud father by night and weekend and adventure racer in any spare time he gets. Adventure racing is an outdoors multisport team competition. Disciplines usually include trail running, mountain biking, paddling and special challenges. Races also range in length anywhere from four hours to 10 days! Read Jeremy’s story >

Coolibar Athletes will share their stories with us throughout their season, so check The Coolibar Blog frequently for updates!

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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete Kristie Cranford

I love running. I have overcome so many obstacles in my life, one being cancer, and running is one of the few things I have semi “control” over. I feel alive and at peace when I run. I am alone with my thoughts and it gives me time to think deeply about many things.

My first half marathon was a huge accomplishment—the Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon (RNRLV) 2009. Many said I would never run a race that distance. During the race a friend surprised me on the course. I cannot tell you how big my heart swelled knowing someone supported me. When I crossed the finish, I put my hands over my face and cried. A volunteer had to move my hands to put the medal around my neck. I had conquered another obstacle. My husband and son met me at the finish. It was FREEZING, but I didn’t care. I did it!

That race was the bug that bit me. I started devouring books and magazines on running, hired a trainer and changed my eating habits. I lost weight and started sleeping better.

Along the way I also found a passion for fitness and became a Certified Personal Trainer. I am now studying to be a Certified Coach. As an athlete, I am attempting to transform from a runner who “runs” races to a runner who “races” races. It’s a huge step for me fine tuning my diet and nutrition and training a whole different way. I may never be an elite athlete, but it sure is fun training like one!

I was born and raised in North Carolina (brief moments of childhood in Ohio, and adulthood in Atlanta, GA) now living in the land of Sin City, Las Vegas. People who know me describe me as a friend to everyone I meet.

My life is busy. I find myself training at midnight sometimes just to fit it in. My goals include becoming a USA Track & Field Masters All American in 2012, finishing an Ultra Marathon, bringing an Outrun the Sun Race to Las Vegas and reaching as many people as possible with the message of sun protection.

As a multiple melanoma survivor since age 27, I am passionate about sun safety, especially since becoming a Mom. I have fought and beat cancer multiple times. I fear the day when I will get it again, not if, but when. I want to be as strong and healthy as I can be, in the event I need to fight again. My son’s bright eyes and smile are the reason I train so hard, eat right and protect my skin every day. I want to be the best Mom I can be for him, for as long as I possibly can.

Kristie’s favorite quote: “It’s about you. It’s personal. You’re not racing against anyone else. You only get one first time, so just enjoy the experience.”

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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete Jeremy Van Ek

Finance professional by day, proud father by night and weekend, and adventurer in any spare time I can manage to fit in. I spend as much time outdoors as possible mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, trail running, orienteering, mountaineering, rock climbing, camping and coaching youth sports. I am also a Cub Scout den leader and president of the Chicago Area Adventure Racing Association.

My true passion is adventure racing, an outdoors multisport team competition. Disciplines usually include trail running, mountain biking, paddling (canoes or kayaks), and special challenges. What makes it really interesting is that team members must stick together at all times (it’s not a relay) and there is never any marked course for the race. We navigate our way using maps and a compass (GPS not allowed).  Adventure races range in length anywhere from four hours to 10 days.

I have several podium finishes in adventure races including 1st place in the 2007 Sweaty Otter Ultramarathon. I’ve also completed 25 plus adventure races from six hours to three days in length. My goal for any outdoor adventure is get dirty, have fun, eat strange foods, tell jokes, scream “wheee!” with childlike abandon and push myself (and team) to the best possible finish.

I am an everyday guy who likes to spend as much time outdoors as possible, getting up at 4:30 am just to get in 10 miles of mountain biking before heading to work. Friends constantly ask what kind of racing I am up to because they like to hear the stories. My plan for this year so far includes: Desplaines canoe and kayak marathon (solo kayak division); Chicago Adventure Racing Association All-Nighter workout (I plan and run this event every year); trip to hike Long’s Peak in Colorado; and a three day canoe trip in Northern Michigan.

I truly believe that you don’t have to be a super-athlete or maniac to be an adventurer. There is a lot waiting right in your backyard; you just have to occasionally go looking for it when you can manage to spare the time. I live in the west suburbs of Chicago, not exactly an adventurer’s paradise, but I’ve found many amazing sights just by wandering off the beaten trail, getting up a little earlier than normal to catch the sunrise and following the road less traveled.

On a final note, I feel strongly that sun protection is important in all outdoor activities. My kids are slathered with sunblock every time we go hiking and kayaking!

Jeremy Van Ek on Mt. Lincoln
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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete Marion Lepert

I have a passion for windsurfing. My father got me started when I was eight years old (2004), and I have been hooked ever since. I learned in a small lagoon in Foster City, California. After three years of practice, I started racing with the local San Francisco Bay racing fleet. I loved the thrill of racing and the speed and tactics that accompany it, so I kept with it. Soon enough, thanks to the support and advice of the local SF racers and my family, I was ready to compete at the national and international level. 

Now, I have raced for almost six years and have traveled across the world to do so. My first major accomplishment was in 2009 when I became the US Junior Girl National Champion in Slalom and Formula windsurfing. I then trained harder and continued to travel to international events to learn from the top sailors. In 2011, I finished in the top 5 in three world championships, including first place at the Women’s Formula Worlds, and second place at the Junior Windsurfing Worlds. I consider myself very fortunate to race internationally, and my dream is now to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games.

I currently enjoy windsurfing 2-3 times a week, and while I am very happy to be able to do so, I am concerned about my exposure to the sun. I became especially aware of this danger in 2010, when a member of my immediate family was diagnosed with melanoma. Since then, I have changed my mindset about being under the sun. I now understand that being exposed to the sun without protection is harmful to my skin, even when I do not sunburn, and this is why I consider sun protection a must whenever I go outdoors. While wearing sunscreen has been an option for me, Coolibar products are more effective and less burdensome because they allow me to avoid the hassle of trying to reapply sunscreen while I am wet and salty. And with UPF 50+ protection, I know I am safe from the sun when I have fun windsurfing!

In addition to windsurfing, I love running on local trails, volunteering with my school garden, baking chocolate desserts, spending time with my family and cuddling with my cat.

Marion Windsurfing
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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete Sara Snyder

My name is Sara Snyder and I’m a full-time artist, illustrator, part time craftswoman, environmental educator, avid nature photographer, blogger and outdoor adventurer. I run a nature photography project titled A Year in the Woods.

I was born August 10, 1985 on Long Island, NY and moved to Southern California in 2007 to pursue many of my greatest dreams exploring and living outdoors for long stretches of time where I find inspiration and combine both my work and play. Trekking long distances makes for the perfect opportunity to quench my creative and athletic urges and take my interests to a new level.

Currently, I am embarking on a 2,663 mile journey from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail from April to October 2012. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through 24 National Forests, seven National Parks, five California State Parks, five Bureau of Land Management Resource Areas as well as other public and private lands. I believe nature is the perfect canvas, teacher and healer, and with each new step through its primal retreat comes new wisdom and possibility; a chance to restore the spirit, mind, and body.

Each day I take parts of my adventures and capture perfect moments I feel I cannot possibly improve on. Though living by sun and moon is an amazing and liberating experience, with freedom typically comes responsibility. The sun, though our life giver, can be just as merciless as it is loving and I am currently on my second biopsy from the harsh California rays. Coolibar takes a huge burden off my shoulders when it comes to my sun protection worries, so thank you Coolibar for everything you do!

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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete Tania Prymak

I have always loved sports of all kinds! My problem growing up was trying to play as many sports as I could; softball, soccer, skiing, swimming, track and field. Ultimately, I had to narrow it down to a sport I was really passionate about—skiing. I started ski racing when I was eight years old and in eighth grade attended Burke Mountain Academy, an elite ski academy in East Burke, VT. I trained on a daily basis, racing all over the country and internationally. I raced in alpine state championships, Junior Olympics and a variety of International Ski Federation races.

All of this travel led me to a ski resort in Oregon where elite US ski cross athletes were training on a ski cross course. Completely intrigued, I knew this was something I had to do. In the early winter season, after my high school graduation, I travelled back to Oregon to try the freestyle skiing event I saw. I was hooked instantly!

Even though I have only two seasons of ski cross racing under my belt, I have accomplished a lot. I am the 2011 USASA Woman’s National Ski Cross Champion and the USSA Revolution Tour Champion. I’m also the 2012 NorAm 4th place finisher in Copper Mountain, CO, the Hole Shot Tour 3rd place finisher and 1st place finisher at Killington Mountain, VT.

The highlight of 2012 was being named to the USA World Junior Team that travelled to Valmalenco, Italy in April 2012 for FIS Junior World Ski Championships. Competing against an international field of junior woman, I finished 16th overall, and best of all US women.

After attempting two World Cup races last winter, which was challenging, I learned I need to get serious about training. I hope to move out to Colorado for the upcoming winter season to concentrate on all aspects of training to compete and achieve solid results. This will help me reach my goal of qualifying for an Olympic spot in the future.

Skiing requires year-round training, most done outdoors. During the summer, road and mountain biking comprises much of my training and the sun can be brutal. During my high school alpine ski academy experience, I was hospitalized often and diagnosed with kidney disease. Unfortunately, I was on many strong medications that created other problems, one being skin problems. I have a severe allergy to Doxycycline, and sensitivity to the sun with other meds. I use Coolibar clothing during training and at races during sunny days to protect against burn.

When I’m not skiing, I’m attending school at the University of New Hampshire. I’m majoring in biomedical sciences with the intent of applying to veterinary or medical school. I am currently on leave while I complete EMT training to gain real hands-on experience and look forward to volunteering on an ambulance core and hopefully a ski patrol group. I also love to scuba and am a scuba-certified advanced and scientific research diver. I can ride a unicycle too! I love spending time with my family, friends and my crazy Jack Russell!

Tania Prymak Ski Cross
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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete Peter Urban

I’ve been playing competitive tennis for almost 30 years, including Division I tennis for Fairfield University from 1985 to 1989. I’m a United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Central Massachusetts Indoor Tennis Association (CMITA) league tennis player with a  4.5 ranking. Went 10-3 during regular season in 2010 USTA tennis league at number one singles and finished 2012 CMITA tennis league at 4-1-1.

My current goal is to publish a book that describes how to watch the ball, “Gaze Control – How to Watch the Ball.” Growing up, everyone told me to watch the ball, but nobody ever explained how to do this. I have an outline of the book completed. Now I just need to finish it and add video!

I also enjoy the outdoors and make a point to be active. If I’m not playing tennis I am running and surfing. I’m also an avid skier, having skied extensively in the US, Canada and Europe.

Fall 2011, I had skin cancer removed from center of my back. My dermatologist claimed this location is typical with men. Fortunately it was curable. Now, I realize I need to be extra careful in the sun. However, sunscreen lotion is inadequate because it is difficult to apply to the back and sweat removes it. I would like to go outside without worrying if I missed a spot.  I also don’t want to worry about whether I applied the right amount of sunscreen, or if it is no longer protecting me. I use clothing for sun protection because it is faster to put a shirt on than to take 10 minutes to put on lotion. I hope my story will help others to see the value in using sun protective clothing.

Peter Playing Tennis
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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete Elena King

I am a Class A Member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Teaching and Club Professional Division. Prior to founding my golf instruction company, ExperienceGolf, I spent five years as an instructor at the McGetrick Golf Academy.  After graduation from the University of Iowa, where I was a captain for three years, I continued on to play competitive professional golf for five years.

When Common Ground Golf Course opened in 2009 my company was asked to head-up golf instruction. The Common Ground Golf Course was designed to inspire and promote the game of golf at all levels. Because of my coaching approach and ExperienceGolf, my instruction equates to enjoyment for my students and myself. Lasting relationships have been formed. State and national championships have been celebrated. Career rounds have been toasted!

Blending my experience playing and coaching golf, I offer a comprehensive approach to the game including overall performance and player development. I coach players of all skill levels from beginners to touring professionals and tailor my approach to support each individual in discovering his or her specific goals. I am privileged to coach and mentor many of the top competitive junior players in Colorado.

My many years in the golf industry under the sun, I am adamant about protecting my skin from the sun. With Colorado having one of the highest percentages of skin cancer in the United States, I constantly remind my students to wear quality sunscreen and the importance of the sun protective clothing and hats.

CWGA Experience Day May 2012
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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete Molly Baross

Hi, my name is Molly Baross and I am 64 years old. Yes, really! I am a Master’s synchronized swimmer. I learned the sport of “synchro” as a young girl at age 14 after swimming competitively. We practiced in an indoor pool and never had to worry about sun exposure. My team placed very high nationally in the USA. Of course, synchro was a small sport then and it was not included in college programs or the Olympics, so at age 20 I retired from the sport to pursue college, career, marriage and family.

Flash forward to after having a successful career and prospering family. I wanted exercise to help my slightly arthritic body and to keep me in shape. I joined a Masters synchro team. It was wonderful to be back in the water participating in a sport that I already had some awareness of and to get such great exercise. My team, The Unsyncables of La Mirada, competes nationally at least once a year against people in our own age group. Preparing for the competitions takes lots of practice, endurance and conditioning to be strong enough to hold your breath and do the complicated movements.

In competitions, I like to join either 4-8 other swimmers for a team routine. We choose the music, the movements and are coached to perform to our best abilities. Synchronized swimming is never perfect. There are always ways to perform better, and it takes many hours of practice to come close to acceptable. I also like to swim with a partner in the duet or sometimes with two other partners for a trio routine. If I feel brave enough or have enough time to practice, I will prepare a solo routine; however, solos are very scary!

Our efforts have paid off. In October 2011, nationally, my team placed 1st and my duet was 1st also. Two years ago in Sweden, where we competed in Fina Worlds synchronized swimming, my team placed 1st, our duet was 1st also and I placed 2nd in solo. At present, we are preparing to compete in Riccione, Italy at the Fina World’s Aquatic Championships, June 9-17, and in October, for the National Synchronized swimming Championships in Florida.

Having a tanned body isn’t the same now as it was when I was 17 years old. I don’t want to have freckles and spots on my face, arms and body. I use sunscreen all of the time and coat my face. I’m excited to try Coolibar so I can enjoy my time in the water and sun without suffering from the elements.

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Coolibar Athletes Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Athlete John Barker

I began doing triathlons in 2007 as a way to get into better shape and became hooked on the sport. I’ve competed in one sprint and two Olympic distance triathlons. My plan is to eventually do an ironman.

In the fall of 2009, I began my training to do a half ironman in the summer of 2010 when I met Lee, a neighbor of my parents. It was Thanksgiving and he was going around to his neighbors delivering fruit baskets that they had put together at church. After talking with Lee for a little bit, I learned that he was dying from kidney disease and was waiting for an organ donation. Lee’s faith thru his ordeal was very inspiring to me, so I decided to be tested to see if I was a kidney donor match. We went through the transplant surgery on July 1, 2010, and it was a great success! I had some complications with pain from the surgery, so I put off training for triathlons for another year.

I am now back on track and will be competing in my first triathlon since the surgery on July 14, 2012. My training routine has become a part of my life, and competing in this local triathlon is my first step toward doing an ironman.

Ever since my wife Elizabeth began working for Coolibar [sun protection you wear] we have learned a lot about the dangers of being exposed to ultraviolet radiation. As a triathlete, I spend a lot of time outdoors, and I am appalled at how little concern there is among other triathletes to these dangers. As an athlete, I want help educate other athletes about the importance of sun protection.

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