20th Anniversary of Victor Davis Scholarship

One of the best things in Canadian swimming

by: Clifford Barry 
Courtesy of SWIMNEWS Magazine, December 2009

2010 marks the 20th anniversary of The Victor Davis Memorial Fund, something I am very proud of. In that short span of time, there will have been 90 recipients and approximately $95,000 awarded to some very deserving candidates.

The Victor Davis Memorial Fund was created in November 1990, three days after Victor Davis, one of Canada’s most successful Olympic athletes, passed away in Montreal’s Notre Dame Hospital from a broken brain stem, the result of a hit-and-run driver’s actions. Born out of this tragedy were some very lucky organ recipients and the Victor Davis Memorial Award.

The idea for the Fund came from my best friend and past international swimmer Blackie Chase and me. Neither of us wanted to see Victor’s fierce desire to win nor his ability to motivate his teammates to incredible performance levels to ever be forgotten. Our neighbours in Pointe Claire, Quebec, helped write and print a poster that was used to promote the Fund. SNC gracefully offered to help manage the financial part of the Fund.

The Fund has been funded entirely by public donations, and not one penny goes to administration. Without people like Scott Budd of the Guelph Marlins, who helped raise approximately $110,000 during 10 years, and Mel Davis, who continually finds donors, this Fund would not exist today.

The board of directors is made up of Chris Bowie, Mel Davis, and me. Lisa Flood and Cheryl Gibson have served on the board at different times in the past. For as long as I can remember, Anne Nichols at Swimming Canada has played an important role in caring for and administering the Fund.

With so many talented and deserving applicants, decisions can be very difficult. Criteria for selection are that you must be a national qualifier, display international potential, and prove financial need.

The list of recipients reads like a Who’s-Who of Canada’s finest international swimmers, such as Ryan Cochran, Brent Hayden, Erica Morningstar, Mathieu Bois, Julia Wilkinson, Matt Hawes, Alexandra Gabor, and Joel Greenshields, to name a few.

Personally, I think The Victor Davis Memorial Fund is one of the best things in Canadian swimming. The money is given with no strings attached. It is intended to reward the moms and dads who do everything in their power to support their children towards success. It is also meant to be a financial bridge until SNC carding can be realized. Finally, it brings honour, recognition, and affirmation to the successful recipients.

Since it’s inception, the Victor Davis Memorial Fund has awarded 90 athletes with $1500 bursaries to aid in their training costs. Thirteen of these athletes were on the 2008 Olympic Team in Beijing, including Olympic bronze medalist Ryan Cochrane.

Because I presently live in Switzerland, I rarely get to the November Canada Cup meets where the successful candidates are announced. However, reading the application forms can be both emotional and motivational, and knowing the quality of individuals that are applying makes it all worthwhile.

Anyone wishing to donate to The Victor Davis Memorial Fund can do so by clicking here.