CALGARY - Canadian Swim Coaches & Teachers Association launched its Hall of Fame Friday in Calgary as part of the 2014 Canadian Swimming Congress with the induction of three members, two of whom had significant BC contributions and accomplishments.
Deryk Snelling and the late Howard Firby - both of whom were leaders of the Canadian Dolphins Swim Club - along with recently deceased Nick Thierry formed the inaugural class of the CSCTA Coaching Hall of Fame.
"Our organization has come a long way since being founded in 1966 and we felt the time was right to start honouring the contributions of some of the most important coaches in Canadian swimming history," said CSCTA President Dean Boles.
Firby is an honoured member of the Canadian Olympic, Canadian Sports and International Swimming Halls of Fame, among others, and Swimming Canada's Circle of Excellence. He founded the Canadian Dolphin Swim Club, where he developed 11 world record-holding swimmers, including fellow British Columbia Sports Hall of Famers Elaine Tanner, Mary Stewart and Helen Stewart. His international coaching assignments included head coach at the 1964 Olympics. Firby was also an accomplished artist and illustrated his own book Howard Firby on Swimming in 1975.
Thierry, meanwhile, listed Firby as his biggest coaching influence. They were rivals on the national level but coached internationally together, including at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, to which they drove together. The Toronto-based Thierry was an accomplished coach in his own right, including serving as head coach at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland, where his swimmer Angela Coughlan won gold in the 100-m freestyle. Both Thierry and Firby were involved in founding the CSCTA, of which Firby was the first president.
Snelling has been awarded the Order of Canada and is also an honoured member of the Canadian Olympic, Canadian Sports and International Swimming Halls of Fame and Swimming Canada's Circle of Excellence. After a successful swimming career in England, where he was the 1951 national champion in 200-m breaststroke, he followed Firby at the Canadian Dolphin Swim Club, and later coached at the Etobicoke (Ont.) Swim Club and University of Calgary. He coached swimmers to nine straight Canadian Olympic teams, where they won 21 medals and set multiple world records.
"This first class is just that: first class. Howard and Nick were founding members of the association, and along with Deryk are among the greatest coaches to ever step on a pool deck in Canada," said CSCTA Executive Director Chris Hindmarch-Watson. "We're proud to open our Hall of Fame with these names and we look forward to adding more deserving candidates in the future."
The inductions were made during the Swimming Canada and CSCTA Awards and Recognition Reception, part of the five-day Canadian Swimming Congress. The Congress, which runs through Sunday in partnership with Swim Alberta, brings together hundreds of coaches, officials and swimming leaders for meetings, education and awards.
The event continues Saturday with a joint breakfast keynote from international climber and inspirational speaker Warren Macdonald, followed by the Annual General Meetings of Swimming Canada and Swim Alberta.