An organization such as Masters Swimming Ontario depends on a vast number of volunteers to survive and to flourish. Among these volunteers there is a small number who distinguish themselves through dedication, involvement, experience and committment, by years of service, by significant contributions and by perpetuating the philosophy of Masters Swimming.
The early years of Masters Swimming in Ontario were characterized by a number of dedicated, talented people, developing and nurturing a sport from its birth to infancy. The following 3 people were recognized as “Honourary Life Members” in their time. Hud Stewart – In February 1978, Hud was honoured for his vision as the first Masters Swimmer in Canada. Bernie McGrath – “In great appreciation of the very significant personal efforts made in the interests of Masters Swimming”, Bernie was honoured in February 1980. Jack McCormick – For years of service as an Official and a special friend to Masters Swimming, Jack was honoured in November 1988.
Lesley Mason-Ward (2013)
After an early-childhood bout of whooping cough, Lesley was advised by her family doctor to learn to swim. Her first competitors were the cockroaches sharing the very British cold water (19 deg. C) of the 15-yard learner pool. Finally, at the age of 7 she faced her first human competition. Wartime limited “swimming galas”, but the 1948 Olympics were held in London and Lesley tried out for the team – unsuccessfully. (A post-war diet of potatoes, apples and bacon fat on bread was only productive for racing at the club level.) However, there must have been some more positive competition results, since Lesley continued her athletic pursuits and was careful to have her full name properly spelled in the results listings once she joined the Masters ranks.
1982 was her introduction to Masters Swimming in Canada – a meet was held in Lindsay, Ontario and, with encouraging results there, Lesley became a regular competitor at the Provincial and National levels, and by 1985 took part in World’s athletic event in Toronto. More international competition followed, with memorable medals won in Indianapolis. She was recruited by Geoff Camp for the Board of Masters Swimming Ontario and worked for several years with Pat Niblett keeping provincial statistics. Later, working with Brian Croker, she guarded the MSO finances for several more years.
After years of involvement with her daughters in swim lessons and club swimming at the Y, the autumn of 1984 saw Lesley along with seven others, helping to found the Ottawa West Y Masters Swimming club, becoming a role model and booster for adults’ regular training, stroke improvement, and competition. Her elegant backstroke was the envy of her team-mates, as was her ability to “fly” in relays. Lesley often presented us with a carefully crafted team stats list from our big meets, and also hand-made a great banner to announce the team’s presence at the pools. After close to 25 years, when ill health limited her competition in the pool, she became a dedicated coach for this “SWYM” club.
In Lesley’s words:
“It has been a privilege to enjoy the sport I love for over 75 years.”
Ontario Masters honour and thank Lesley for her dedication to the sport in the pool, on deck, and in the Boardroom.
Olenka Mckee (2011)
Three years ago we at Masters Swimming Ontario had chosen our next SWIMS Award winner (aka the order of the Soggy Goggles) but unfortunately she was quite ill and unable to attend the Provincials. The following year the banquet night was cancelled and then the next year she was hit by a car and unable to train and participate. We decided to treat her to a lunch instead and present her with her award. By now many of you will know we are speaking of Olenka McKee.
The SWIMS AWARD is given to someone who has made an impact on Masters Swimming in Ontario.
Being on the MSO board with Olenka I got to know her a little but not in the way some of her other swim colleagues did. As a board member Olenka was a very active participant and as Competition Chairperson she and Craig our webmaster formulated and introduced the 3 step sanctioning system which works exceptionally well as long as all 3 steps are completed. Thank you, thank you, Olenka.
I received a few words from some of her earlier fellow swimmers.
Olenka was inducted into the Waterloo County Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 for the following performances.
1996; 7 National Records. 100, 400, 1500 free
100, 200, 400 IM; 200 Bk
2000; 6 National Records. 100, 200, 400 free
100, 200 Bk; 200IM
These were called records which must have been 1sts but she was fast enough to set records.
Olenka is a born leader; if our coach was late she was the first to put a practice set on the board. At Worlds 2002 in New Zealand she organized our training before the competition.
On occasion we would play Water Polo after some training sets. She always went after the toughest guy [John Whitney ] to put him under water [never could]. Thatâ€™s why he always referred to her as the lane bitch.
John Lenard once said he used a certain solution to clean his goggles to which Olenka said they used that solution in her lab to clean diamonds.. Perhaps thatâ€™s why someone made her a t-shirt with a dog wearing goggles.
In March 2001 a Canadian Record was set in the 4 x 100 Fr relay by Olenka, Norm McKee, Jan Steinberg and Stuart Martin. It didnâ€™t stand long but it was a record.
Signed, Stuart Martin.
From another swimmer:
I was at Waterloo starting Sept 1971 and I first graduated in 1975. I swam for Bob Graham for three years – 1971/72; 1972/73 and 1973/74. Yikes I have been swimming longer for Nepean Masters.
Olenka was married to Bob Graham and they had one daughter, who I babysat in my second year, she cried the whole night. If you are on Facebook you will see messages between Olenka and Stephanie Graham. http://www.adm.uwaterloo.ca/infoswim/past_seasons/coaches.html
Olenka’s maiden name was GORAZDOWSKA I recall seeing her passport which had both the masculine and feminine versions of her name (father and her own) followed by Graham so it was ALEXANDRA (Olenka) GORAZDOWSKA GORAZDOWSKI Graham.
ALEXANDRA GORAZDOWSKA is listed as receiving the Waterloo Warrior Swim Team MVP award for the greatest contribution to the team in 1969-70. http://www.adm.uwaterloo.ca/infoswim/past_seasons/mvp.html
Signed Brigitte Zirger
Barrie Malloch (2007)
Barrie Malloch Has a Passion for Learning
Barrie is an uncommon person. Unlike many, she has never lost her interest in learning new things, trying new things, and avoiding the routine in life. She came to Masters much later than many (especially some of the earlier OSG recipients, some of whom seem to have been swimming competitively in the womb). For her it was a new way to exercise. She joined the Mississauga Masters in the late 1980’s and never looked back.
After a couple of years learning the ropes, she transferred to Alderwood Masters and came under the tutelage of Ted Roach. Here she helped out with the meets and learned that missing an event due to a hangover is not necessarily a bad thing – just a new lesson to be learned. It was at this time she discovered that her name is also a little uncommon as she had been entered in the male side of events repeatedly by meet managers who didn’t know her of course she got to the meet to CORRECT it.
By the mid-1990’s she had moved to the Etobicoke Olympium Masters, and also started her first stint with the MSO Board. She served as club contact coordinator for two years, and then decided that she needed to learn some new skills. She taught herself to do web design and became the MSO web master, a position she filled until 2006. During this time the web page was completely redesigned, and it is now a model of simplicity for finding information, and her standards for timely updates and relevant information will be hard to match.
As if this was not enough, Barrie also raised two kids on her own, and had a career at the University of Toronto as a mycologist (biologist specializing in fungi). Not surprisingly, when she took early retirement at 62, it lasted less than a year before she had restarted work in private industry (just to keep her hand in and keep learning). It seems likely that swimming will continue to be on her list of interests as well, as long as she keeps learning new things. She’s going to Cuba for the 1 st time and she has Jacqueline as her personal guide to teach her more.
Masters Swimming Ontario and her good friends are pleased to honour Barrie Malloch with the Order of the Soggy Goggle (OSG) for her years of assistance to swimmers, her constant interest in helping out, and most particularly, for her never ending quest for knowledge that can help the swimming community. She is one that wants the facts and only the facts so Barrie come on up.
Chris Smith (2005)
Chris grew up in Bermuda and was first off a diving board at age 4. He started competitive swimming at high school, was Captain and Coach in his final year, also the school’s instructor and examiner for the Royal Life Saving Society. He then attended the Royal Military College at Royal Roads, again was Coach and Captain of the team, also for the West Coast Navy Team in the summers. After two years of Engineering at Royal Roads, he switched to Architecture at U of T where he played water polo. Chris was a scuba diver instructor in the 60’s. He is a Pisces!
While at University he worked on the design of the “New Town” of Don Mills, also was involved in promoting co-op housing. These interests took him to Sweden after graduation for almost four years. On his return he worked in traditional architecture, and was the Project Architect for Commerce Court, the CIBC’s head office in Toronto. He was involved in promoting affordable housing and the reintroduction of housing into downtown Toronto and was hired by the City to develop the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood along the Esplanade, he later developed many co-op housing communities in the GTA.
Chris has always wanted to work for the good of the whole with input from anyone and everyone. He does everything with a passion, not only in swimming but with other humanitarian issues such as planting and nurturing Carolinian trees in the Don Valley.
Although Chris only started masters swimming fifteen years ago, he has been involved in swimming for almost forty years, as a swim parent and official. As a Master (Level V) SNC official, he has officiated nationally and internationally for age group, national level and masters meets. In this capacity he has made many national and international contacts. He is presently on the Board of the Ontario Swimming Officials Association.
Very active in his Masters Swimming Club, Trillium Y, he swims enthusiastically, attending well over a dozen meets a year, many out of the country. Chris has held several MSC and FINA records and is usually the top ranked swimmer in Canada in his age group. He has been heavily involved with running many of the Ontario Championships since 1993 and was the driving force behind the Nationals in Toronto this year.
Chris was on the Board of MSO for several years and was President in 1996-97. Presently most of Chris’ enthusiasm is directed towards improving Masters swimming in Canada and involving more fitness swimmers. In February, 2004, Chris was elected President of MSC and re-elected in May, 2005. For the past two years, Chris has led the MSC Board of Directors in restructuring of the organization. As a result, new By-laws have been drawn up and approved by the MSC membership and are to take effect next year.
A very deserving new member of the Order of the Soggy Goggles.
Bryan Finlay (2005)
In 1960, Bryan Finlay set a Freestyle record on Breaststroke in the 5.25 mile open water swim at Lake Coniston in England. A week later he participated in the 10 mile open water Lake Windermere Championship. In the cold water, he became hypo-glycemic and was pulled unconscious at the 7 mile mark. I think I now know what cold water did to the brain of this young teenager!!! Froze him silly!!! Why else would anyone swim long distances in cold water and not always in favorable conditions!!
Bryan returned a year later and completed the Lake Windermere race doing what stroke he does best- Breaststroke!! Two years later in 1963, he returned and this time broke the Lake record for breaststroke with a time that was minutes faster than in 1961.
In 1979, at the age of 35, Bryan returned to Lake Windermere and encountered rough and cold conditions. He completed the race semi-conscious in just under 7 hours. He just never learns does he!!
Bryan then switched gears and decided to become a “sprinter” relatively speaking – in open water swimming, setting a record in the 5 mile breaststroke that has stood for at least 39 years. Up to 2002 it still was standing!! And so is Bryan.
Bryan set Masters World Short-Course 200 m Breaststroke records (2:50.27 and 2:48.22) for the 40-44 age-group between 1986 and 1988.
In 1992 after an aborted attempt of Lake Ontario and several storm related tries of Lake Simcoe, Bryan braved a 15 hour -19 mile heartbreak on Lake Simcoe. He did however triumph the 22 mile Barrie to Orillia Lake Simcoe swim in 21 hours 9 minutes a couple of years later.
Bryan’s August 2002 crossing of the English Channel fell short just 800 metres from the French shore due to hypo-glycaemia. He passed out being pulled into the boat.
Bryan’s passion for open water swimming has also extended to supporting the sport for others.
Bryan has been associated with Solo Swims of Ontario since 1991 and has been its Treasurer since 1992.
Bryan was the 2004 recipient of the Cliff Lumsdon Award of Solo Swims of Ontario, recognizing his contributions to the organization and his achievements in open water swimming.
Bryan was a member of the MSO Board of Directors for the 1983-85 term and been active on the MSO Rules Committee working with Pat Niblett and Michael Stroud for many years.
Bryan formed the UWO Aquatic Masters in 1978. He has also been the chief cook and bottle washer for the St. Mary’s Swim since its inception in 1982 and rallied to get the Ontario Championship designation in 1986.
Having reached the venerable age of 60 a year or so ago, Bryan is now looking for more challenges to conquer. He anticipates being the oldest swimmer to complete the course at St. Mary’s before Canada’s bi-centennial, assuming Ken Marchant ever decides to retire, and that George Milne runs out of replacement parts.
Making others aware of the sacrifices required and the rewards reaped both in and out of the water, and for his dedication to the sport of Open Water Swimming, the Order of the Soggy Goggle is present to Bryan Finlay on behalf of Masters Swimming Ontario.
May all your journeys be in calm water, may the water temperature be as warm as your compassion, and may you live to reap the rewards of conquering those swims that have eluded you.
Brian Croker (2002)
In the world of Masters Swimming there are those who wish to toil in anonymity and there are those who stand up and make themselves noticed and one of those swimmers is Brian Croker.
Brian began his involvement with Masters Swimming in Ontario in the early 1980’s administering the Wintario grants. Yes, in the good old days there was money available from government agencies for travel to championship meets and Brian managed that process and that money. Progressing from there, Brian served as an elected Director of the Board for 12 years beginning in 1982, fulfilling the role of Treasurer for 2 years. Brian continues to support us today in the (paid) volunteer position of Registrar.
In addition, his presence at Board meetings and his longtime involvement provides an important historical perspective to our evolution.
And make no mistake, Brian has been an important part of that evolution. Brian guided Ontario as President for 3 years beginning in 1984, intimately involved in laying the groundwork that led to MSO’s incorporation and separation from Swim Ontario in 1987.
Furthermore, Brian spent a total of 6 years on the MSC Board of Directors, managing the financial matters as Treasurer for 2 years, acting as Vice President for 2 years and finally balancing the needs of the other provinces as they evolved and the interests of the country wide organization as President for 2 years.
Brian’s presence at the national level led to his involvement with the (now defunct) Masters Swimming International as the North American Representative, representing Canadian, American and Mexican swimmers at the international level.
Brian is also heavily involved with the International Gay and Lesbian Association and was an integral part of the bid that brought the IGLA Championship to Toronto in 2001 and an integral part of the Meet Management Committee that worked so diligently to make those championships a success. The IGLA meets are open to all swimmers and hundreds of swimmers from MSO attend.
Brian has chosen to avoid the shadows and stands front and centre in our sport as a swimmer who has supported us, represented us and led us.
Geoff Camp (2002)
While still competing at the age of 14, Geoff established and coached the Montreal West Masters Swim Club in 1973, a team that included his mother. From that familial beginning, Geoff’s involvement has grown to the point today where, as President of MSC, his ‘family’ encompasses nearly 7000 swimmers in the country.
Along the way, Geoff’s list of accomplishments begins in Quebec with the 9 years in Montreal West, followed by 2 years as coach of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association and as a member of the Quebec Masters Committee for 4 years. A highlight being the coach of the country’s first 280+ mens relay team.
Geoff ended up in Etobicoke in 1988 with a stop in Ottawa along the way. His activities with MSO now span more than a decade, many of those years simply as a friend of the Board, not an elected Director. But always Geoff has provided the clear vision, guidance and wise counsel so needed by us all when the complex, contentious situations arise.
Geoff presided over us all as President in 1994 and his involvement at the provincial level led to positions as the MSC Vice President in 1996, when he acted as emissary to those provinces with secessionary attitudes and as the Canadian Representative to the FINA Technical Masters Congress in 1994, when he represented Canadian swimmers to the world.
Geoff has enjoyed the benefits of a swimming career spanning the country. In addition to Quebec and Ontario, Geoff swam at university in Halifax and now swims intermittently in Victoria. This allows Geoff a vision of the country not afforded many other swimmers. Perhaps this is one of the reasons Geoff is the one we turn to in times of trouble, the one who will ask the tough questions, the one who sees the bigger picture, the one we can count on for resolution and reconciliation.
That national perspective, and as President of MSC, provides Geoff the opportunity to continue to nurture his passion. A passion that began as a top age group swimmer, progressed through the birth of our sport and continues today with the goal of doubling our national membership and hosting Canadian Masters Swimming Championships in each of the 10 provinces.
Swimming through thick and thin (although mostly thick), Geoff continues to display the passion so vital to himself and so comforting to us.
Pat Niblett (2001)
For the 2001 season, I am honoured to present the SWIMS award to Pat Niblett. The official award will happen at the North York Pentathlon in December, but the MSO Board presented it to her informally at the Summer Board meeting, held in July at the Niblett family cottage.
Pat began her involvement with swimming in 1972 as an official with age group swimming. She has continued this involvement, becoming a blue badge (or Master official / level 5) with SNC. During this time she has also served on t the Board of the Eastern Ontario Swimming Association, and was named to the Swim Ontario Honour Roll. In addition, between 1991 and 1996 she coached age group swimmers.
During her officiating years, she was bitten by the swimming bug, and joined the late lamented Bayshore Wavemasters in 1986. Shortly after this she started her service with the MSO Board in 1990, where she has served continuously until this past spring, including one year as president, and two years as MSC representative. While she is now taking a well-deserved break from the Board, she continues to serve on numerous MSO and MSC committees, including rules, and officials. She is also much in demand as an official at any meet where she is not swimming, and several where she is.
Oh yes, and sheâ€™s fast too! She holds several Ontario records, ranging from sprint to distance freestyle, and is now swimming with Duane Jones at Technosport. She hits the big 7-0 in 2002, and already has plans to compete in New Zealand. I can only hope that I have as much energy when I get to her age. Congratulations Pat, and all the best for many years to come.
Ralph Chown, President MSO July 22, 2001
Michael Stroud (2000)
In 1980 Michael walked into a North York Gators practice and started his Masters Swimming career. He has competed locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. In all this time Michael has always been a strong proponent of the Masters Swimming Ontario motto of FUN, FITNESS AND FRIENDSHIP. To this end he has been tireless in volunteering to assist and promote Masters Swimming at all levels.
Locally, Michael has been involved, directly and indirectly, with a number of clubs. He has swum for both the North York Gators and the East York Hurricanes. He has helped run meets for North York, East York, Burlington, and more.Â He has been involved in club organization and administration and has been one of the biggest cheerleaders around – encouraging meet participation, transporting swimmers, organizing relays, recording splits and cheering swimmers on to personal bests and championship swims.
Michael also served nationally. In 1985 he helped organize the Master Games, in 1987, the Canadian Championships and from 1992 to 1998 he was member of the Master Swimming Canada rules committee.
However, Michael’s contribution has been most evident at the provincial level, where Michael has been the Top Ten and Records administrator for 13 of the past 16 years. He has been a member and/or chair of the rules committee for much of the last twenty years. Both strategic planning and the website committee have benefited from his input. In 1999 he compiled and edited the revised MSO Rulebook. He has helped organize a number of provincial championships, including as co-meet manager (with Darlene Brown) the 1997 Ontario Masters Swimming Championships at Brantford. In 1997 he created the Master Swimming Ontario website and in 1998 the SWIMS award.
Michael is being honoured for his longtime commitment to and promotion of Masters Swimming in Ontario.
Beth Whittall (1998)
Please congratulate Beth Whittall as one of the recipients of the Masters Swimming Ontario SWIMS award for 1998. Her career and talents speak for themselves and Canada and indeed, world Masters Swimming as a whole, has benefited from her experience and expertise. The following gives a brief synopsis of her accomplish-ments and skills as a swimmer, administrator and active member of the global swimming community.
Beth was born in Montreal and swam for the downtown YMCA as an age group swimmer. She attended university at Purdue in Indiana, swimming for the Lafayette Swim club, since there was no women’s swim team at the school. Beth graduated with a degree in Pharmacy.
While swimming age group, Beth attended the 1954 British Empire Championship in Vancouver, the 1955 Pan-American Games in Mexico and the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She won the Lou Marsh Trophy, as the outstanding amateur athlete in the country, in 1955 for her efforts in Mexico where she won gold in the 100 Butterfly and 400 Freestyle. She also swam in the finals of the 100 Butterfly at the Melbourne Olympics.
After retiring from elite swimming, she continued to coach at the age group level in Montreal (in St. Laurent) and in 1973 she started the St. Laurent Masters Club, which continues today. At the same time, she started the Quebec Masters Committee and co-hosted the first masters meet in Quebec in 1974.
Moving to Ontario in 1976, she joined the Ontario Masters Committee, eventually becoming its president for two years, 1987-88. During that time, Beth led our organization through the process to become independent from Swim Ontario. The structure of MSO was created and incorporation became a reality on January 1, 1989.
Beth was the Rules chairperson for Masters Swimming Ontario and Masters Swimming Canada and was a member of the MSI Rules Committee. Part of her efforts during this period led to the first Canadian Masters Swimming rulebook. She also acted as assistant manager (with Kay Easun as manager) of the Canadian Masters Championship held at the Etobicoke Olympium in 1987. As well, she earlier worked with Ted Roach and others on the Steering committee for Masters as part of the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association, before Masters Swimming Canada became independent and self-administering.
Since withdrawing from committees and boards for some well-deserved rest and moving to Meaford, on Georgian Bay, Beth has started another club, the Georgian Bay Masters and initiated an annual 1 and 3 kilometre open water swim in Meaford. In 1997, the Georgian Bay Swim was designated the Ontario Open Water Championship for those distances.
In addition to all of her efforts on behalf of Masters Swimming worldwide, Beth has also written, edited and published Wavelengths, a quarterly Masters magazine, for the last 16 years. This brought together Masters Swimmers and served as a critical information source long before the advent of the Internet. When the first editor of the MSC news resigned in 1995, Beth stepped into the breach, discontinuing her own newsletter in favour of the editorship of this Canada-wide magazine. During her tenure, distribution of the magazine has been extended to door-to-door delivery, greatly increasing the reach of a key publication to Masters in Canada.
Were this not enough, Beth has also found time to set numerous Ontario and Canadian records in multiple age groups. From all of us Beth, thanks for your lifetime of service and best of luck in your future endeavours. We wouldn’t be here without your efforts and Ontario Masters salute you!
Ted Roach (1998)
Marathon Swimming was the seed from which Ted’s swimming career blossomed. His father, Pat, coached both the first male and the oldest male to cross Lake Ontario. His cousin, Winnie, swam the English Channel. But it was his daughter, Debbie, in 1975, who challenged the lake and who challenged Ted to embark on an active, healthy lifestyle. Debbie conquered the lake and Ted quit smoking.
Ted has maintained the spirit of open water swimming as a Director of Solo Swims of Ontario for almost a decade and has acted as a Swim Master on more than half a dozen swims. Ted’s role is less active these days, but he still provides technical expertise as a member of the Advisory Board.
In 1995, Ted used his own indomitable spirit to tackle Lake Ontario as the oldest person ever to do so. He completed a total of 12 miles, at the age of 70, before withdrawing. Two decades earlier, Ted had harnessed the family spirit and in a fund raising effort for the Lung Association completed a family relay across the Lake. And in one more memorable event, the family competed in the Bi-Centennial Hawaiian island to island relay (in shark infested waters).
The early years of Masters Swimming in Ontario were characterized by the desire of the parents of the young swimmers to be active. The competitions among these parents were small and friendly. Ted first competed at a meet at the School for the Blind in Milton in 1974. As he recalls, he was disqualified in every event, indicating his newness to the sport, but disguising the accomplishments yet to come.
Recognizing the competitive spirit of these adult swimmers, Ted took to meet management. He organized the first Ontario Championship in 1976 at Alderwood. And in a prelude of greater things to come, Ted co-chaired, with Baron Drobig, the first World Aquatic Championship for adult swimmers, held in Etobicoke in 1978. This was the first multi-disciplined aquatic meet for Masters Swimmers. Of course, FINA now oversees the World Championship, but the seed was sown 20 years ago. And the multi-disciplined aspect of Masters Athletics became the basis for the Masters Games, originally held in Toronto in 1985. Ted’s inspiration becoming the basis for an undertaking that has grown exponentially since that time.
Ted’s volunteer spirit is evident in his involvement with the bodies that have governed our sport. Ted served as a Director of the Masters Committee of CASA – Ontario Section for 6 years. Ted then became the Chairman of the National Masters Committee of CASA. During his tenure the first Canadian Masters Swimming Championship was held, in Winnipeg in 1981.
Ted and Thelma have been married for 52 years and appropriately enough they met at the pool at Parkdale Collegiate in 1942. Sticking close to the water, Ted served in the Navy during World War II. And continuing the aquatic theme, competed on the Navy 8 oar shell at the Canadian Henley Regatta.
A few other accomplishments of note are : the first swim coach of York University; the 1994 Mississauga Athlete of the Year; a Special Achievement Honour from the Province of Ontario; the founder of the Alderwood Teddy Bares; the creator of the longest running Masters Swim Meet in the country and a long list of Ontario and Canadian Records and Championships.
And we must not forget Ted’s fun loving spirit : losing his teeth while swimming and being a french fry thief and his silly hats and shirts.
We honour you Ted, the lovable “Teddy” in the Alderwood Teddy Bares, for your love of swimming, for your dedication to our sport and for your spirit.
Kay Easun (1997)
It all started in the playground pools of London, Ontario. At the age of 7, Kay began her competitive swimming career. In 1947, Kay became one of the original members of the London Y Swim Team. At the Olympic Trials in 1948, Kay placed second in the 100 freestyle, but was not selected to the Canadian Team. However, 2 years later, she represented Canada on the international stage at the British Empire Games in Auckland, New Zealand, competing in the 100 and 400 freestyle. Returning to Canada, Kay claimed 11 intercollegiate championships, swimming for the University of Western Ontario.
Hanging up her suit in 1954, Kay then tackled the job of coaching the Western women’s team, leading the team to 2 championships over the following 3 years.
Taking time out to pursue a career in teaching and raising her 3 children, Kay returned to the pool in 1977. And in short order became a Provincial and National Champion and Recordholder, as well as co-coaching the North York Masters for a number of years.
Kay played a part in the early years as a Director and Registrar of the Ontario Masters Committee of CASA – Ontario Section. In 1982 Kay was elected to lead our organization as Chairperson.
During the next 5 years, Kay took leadership roles in various swim meets held in the province.
1982 – 1987 : Meet Manager : North York Pentathlon
1982 : Co-Meet Director, with Sheila Marsden : Ontario Masters Swimming Championship
1985 : Meet Director : Masters Games
1987 : Meet Director : Canadian Masters Swimming Championship
The Masters Games was the largest Masters Swim Meet held in this country at the time with 1200+ swimmers and still ranks as the second largest meet, after the World Championship in Montreal in 1994. And swimming was the only sport at the Masters Games which returned a profit to the organizers.
The 1987 Nationals were exceeded in size only by the 1995 Nationals and was the last Canadian Championship hosted in Ontario.
But Kay always understood that Masters Swimming was more than big, competitive meets. She recognized that many swimmers in the province simply swam for the fitness and social benefits. In an effort to provide the non-competitive swimmer with a means of measuring themselves, Kay created the STOW programme : Swim The Ontario Waterways. Anyone could purchase a specially drawn map of Ontario (prepared by Jack Galvin) and a series of markers to identify the swimmer’s progress around the province. All the participant had to do was swim.
And in a partnership that is still reaping benefits today, Kay created the Heart Fitness Swim : a swim to benefit the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Swimmers would collect pledges and swim for an hour or half an hour. Kay was assisted by Lorraine Walter and Bruce Fairbrother and the swim resulted in increased awareness of Masters Swimming Ontario and provided a small profit to our organization to cover operating costs. As the success of the swim expanded, the Heart and Stroke Foundation took over the operation, renamed it Swim for Heart and proceeded to earn in excess of one million dollars over the years. The MSO partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation continues today with our programme of a $1.00 donation for returned medals and the sponsorship arrangement between Etobicoke and the HSF for this year’s Ontario Championship.
A leader through organization and innovation, we honour Kay as a Swimmer Who Impacted Masters Swimming.