Swimming Canada handed out its annual honours at the Big Splash Awards Gala presented by CN & Vezina Assurances Inc. Monday in Toronto, and as with last year, the awards were dominated by SwimBC athletes and coaches.
Indeed, of the 11 awards handed out recognizing the best in Canadian swimming over the past year, six went those who train or coach in BC.
Ryan Cochrane (Island Swimming/Victoria Academy of Swimming) took home the OMEGA Male Swimmer of the Year award. Cochrane won a silver medal in the 1,500-metre freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, his second Olympic medal.
Martha McCabe (Vancouver Dolphins/National Swim Centre – Vancouver) was named the OMEGA Female Swimmer of the Year. McCabe finished fifth in 200-m breaststroke at the 2012 Olympics. McCabe and 13 other swimmers will represent Canada at the upcoming FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Istanbul from Dec. 12-16.
In the para-swimming categories, Benoit Huot (Piscine Parc Olymique, Montreal) was named the TAS Para-swimming Male Swimmer of the Year. Huot was Canada’s flag-bearer at the Paralympic Games after winning a gold, silver and bronze in London to bring his medal total to 19. Summer Mortimer (Ducks Swimming – Newmarket, Ont.) won the TAS Para-Swimming Female Swimmer of the Year. She won four medals, including two gold, at her first Paralympic Games.
The Open Water Swimmer of the Year award was no contest, as Olympic bronze medallist Richard Weinberger (Pacific Coast Swimming) won the award. Weinberger, who finished third in the 10-km marathon, received his award from presenter Annaleise Carr, the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario.
Each swimmer’s coach was also recognized with an award. Cochrane’s coach Randy Bennett received the OMEGA Coach of the Year Male Swimmer award while Jozsef Nagy took home the award as Coach of the Female Swimmer of the Year category. Huot’s coach Pierre Lamy received the BFL Coach of the Year Male Para-swimmer award and the Female Para-swimmer award went to Mortimer’s coach Reg Chappell.
Weinberger’s coach Ron Jacks took home Open Water Coach of the Year. The other coach award went to Sean Baker of Oakville Aquatic Club, named Club Coach of the Year by the Canadian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association.
The ceremony, hosted by Sportsnet’s Rob Faulds, featured a variety of celebrity presenters, including Mark Tewksbury, who was also recognized with an award. The 1992 Olympic gold medallist, who recently served as Canada’s chef de mission at the London Olympics, became just the third recipient of Swimming Canada’s Impact Award.
The annual awards gala was webcast for the first time ever and also featured performances by Victoria Duffield and Jesse Labelle. In another new twist, swimming fans were able to vote for the People’s Choice Race of the Year until just moments before the award was handed out to Summer Mortimer.