Laughs were shared, stories were told, and tears were shed. Those elements combined to make the 2015 Team Aquatic Supplies SwimBC / BCSCA Awards Banquet and BC Swimming Hall of Fame Induction ceremony one of the most memorable.
The banquet, which took place on Saturday, September 26, at the Fairmont hotel resort in Whistler, BC, along with the BCSCA Conference and AGM, three coaching certification courses, as well as SwimBC’s AGM, also made it one of - if not the - largest in the almost-twenty-year history of the event.
Leading off the event, everyone took a moment to remember and pay tribute to Randy Bennett, who passed away this past spring. Greg Sanderson, General Manager of the event’s sponsor - Team Aquatic Supplies - paid homage with fond remembrances, lessons learned, capped by a moving toast to his long-time friend.
The other highlights of the evening involved the induction of two new members to the BC Swimming Hall of Fame, both of whom had careers which will hard, if not impossible, to surpass.
Brian Johns (RACER, RAPID, UBCT, UBCD) had one of the longest and most prolific careers of anyone in Canadian swimming, and he made the point that while he was prodigious as a youngster, and indeed set records, the records themselves were never, ever a goal; rather, they were simply something that happened along the way as he and his coach worked towards becoming world-class. He also took great pride in the fact that he set more records as a 13-14yr. old than as a 11-12yr. old; then more as a 15-17yr. old than he had in the younger age group.
While many may look at his career and point to his world record in 2003 as the pinnacle of his achievements, he instead pointed to the medal that he won at the world championships in 2007 in the 4x200Free Relay, having come back from a devastating shoulder injury. He’d had to reinvent himself as an athlete and competitor to work around the fact that at one time, he could easily manage 60km of training in a week, but post-injury, he found a way to compete and succeed at the World Championship and Olympic level on barely more than half of that.
In addition to thanking the multitude (I lost count, but I’d guess it was at least 30 names) of coaches from whom he’d been able to work and learn, Johns gave special thanks to the two key coaches in his career: Craig McCord back in his age group days in Richmond, then Tom Johnson at UBC. And finally, he acknowledged his parents for providing him the unconditional support to pursue his passion and dreams.
Michael Edgson (NRST, UVic) was the other athlete inducted to the BC Swimming Hall of Fame, and his career as a para-swimmer was certainly no less impressive than Johns’. Before the Paralympics Games were branded as such, in 1984, Edgson had embarked on a career that saw him win a total of a stunning 18 gold medals in the equivalent of Paralympic competition (1984), then at the 1988 and 1992 Paralympics. In addition, he set nine world records throughout his career, and was chosen as the flag-bearer for the Closing Ceremonies in 1988.
Edgson's acceptance speech thanked his coaches, including Ron Jacks and Peter Vizsolyi who coached him in Victoria and were in attendance, as well as speaking to the power of sport to allow individuals to truly express their true selves: “Some say sport develops character; I say sport reveals character.”
In addition to the Hall inductions the BCSCA and SwimBC also recognized those who excelled this past year. SwimBC’s list of honourees included the following:
- Official of the Year: Dave Archibald
- Volunteer of the Year: Karyn Sutherland (KCS)
- Club of the Year: Pacific Coast Swimming
- Male Para Swimmer of the Year: Nathan Stein (SKSC)
- Open Water Swimmer of the Year: Richard Weinberger (UBCD)
- TAS Male Swimmer of the Year: Ryan Cochrane (ISC)
- TAS Female Swimmer of the Year: Emily Overholt (WVOSC)
The BC Swim Coaches Association award recipients for the 2014-2015 season were as follows:
- Development Staff of the Year: Jason Chugh, Steve McMurray, Shelby Slater (VPSC)
- 11&U Coach of the Year: Theresa Zunich (KISU)
- 13&U Coach of the Year: Drew McClure, Alexandra Pettifer, Vlad Volchkov (RAPID)
- 15&U Coach of the Year: Rod Barratt, Cody Flegel, Ian Mattock (UVPCS)
- Youth Coach of the Year: Ryan Mallette (High Performance Centre - Victoria)
- Junior Coach of the Year: Tom Johnson (High Performance Centre - Vancouver)
- Open Water Coach of the Year: Tom Johnson (High Performance Centre - Vancouver)
- Para-Swimming Coach of the Year: Reg Shaw (SKSC)
- National Coach of the Year: Randy Bennett & Ryan Mallette (High Performance Centre - Victoria)
- International Coach of the Year: Tom Johnson (HPC-Vancouver) and Ryan Mallette (HPC-Victoria)
- Rubber Boot Award: Darryl Rudolf (CRKW)