Ottawa, ON – The Aquatic Federation of Canada (AFC) announced it’s awards recipient for 2008 during it’s Annual General Meeting in Ottawa last week. The AFC awards recognizes athletes and coaches’ high performance achievements, as well as volunteers, administrators and media representatives who have greatly contributed to the four Aquatic Sports, Swimming, Diving, Synchronize Swimming and Water polo.

“As we celebrate all the great achievements of Aquatic Sports athletes and coaches during the 2008 Olympic year, we honour individuals that have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments that will move our respective sports forward and allow the younger generation to dream,” said AFC President Bill Hogan. “On behalf of Aquatic Federation of Canada, I would like to congratulate all the recipients of the AFC Awards as well as all of our athletes, coaches and volunteers that have represented our country at highest level on the world stage this year.”

Olympic Bronze medallist Ryan Cochrane of Victoria, BC was awarded AFC Male Athlete of the Year after his outstanding performance in the Men’s 1500m freestyle. Cochrane, coached by Randy Bennett, set a new Olympic and continental record in the preliminary heat and moved on to a podium finish two days later at the Beijing Olympiad.

Emily Heymans of St. Lambert, QC was honoured with the AFC Female Athlete of the Year following her triumphant silver medal performance in the Women’s 10m tower diving event at the Beijing Olympic Games. Throughout the season, Heymans, who is coached by Yihua Li, has consistently shown great competiveness at the international level by collecting 10 medals during the FINA World Cup circuit

The AFC Team of the Year award was presented to the Synchronized Swimming Olympic/National A team, who made remarkable progress in 2008. Led by Denise and Julie Sauvé, team members Marie-Pier Boudreau Gagnon, Jessika Dubuc, Marie Pierre Gagne, Dominika Kopcik, Eve Lamoureux, Tracy Little, Elise Marcotte, Isabelle Rampling and Jennifer Song took the bronze medal during the Olympic Qualifier round in early April of 2008. Ranked sixth entering the games, the team climbed the ranks to 4th place overall finish with vivid and energetic performances that wowed audiences across the globe.
Diving Coach Yihua Li of Pointe Claire, was honoured as a AFC Coach of the Year. She has helped guide Émilie Heymans, Arturo Miranda, Reuben Ross and Melanie Rinaldi to national and international success. Her biggest accomplishment this year was helping Émily win her silver medal at the Olympic games.

In the summer of 2007, Diver Blythe Hartley of Calgary lost her older brother Strachan, 30, to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In dealing with this tragic loss, she decided to dedicate her 2008 season and
final Olympic Games to his memory. To help promote the importance of sport and education to underprivileged youth, Blythe and the Hartley family have held numerous fundraisers and awareness campaigns throughout the course of the year. In recognition of her endeavours, the AFC presented it’s Spirit of Sport award to Blythe.

This year the AFC Media Awards of the Year were presented to John McKinnon of the Edmonton Journal and Sylvain Lamarre of the Courier Laval. Both of these exceptional journalists have built strong relationships with many members of the aquatics community and have gained their respect through their ethical practices and enthusiasm for the sport. When athletes and coaches are being interviewed by John and Sylvain, they are confident that the resulting story will be one of high quality.

A special recognition for outstanding volunteer work was presented to Lockie Lister, a Paralympic Swimming Official that has contributed countless hours to the enhancement of the Paralympic Swimming movement. Lister received the AFC Volunteer of the Year award.

AFC President Bill Hogan also presented the President Honour Roll recognition to Benoit Seguin (Diving), Linda Cuthbert (AFC past president), Mark Smorong (Water Polo past president) and Philip Clark (Swimming Official) who past away last July. These individuals have demonstrated great leadership and are considered great pioneers within the Aquatics community.

The AFC is the voice for the Olympic aquatic sports, both domestically and internationally, and the vehicle for cooperative initiatives in order to improve its member sports’ development and results.

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More information:
Martin Richard
Communications Director
Swimming Canada
Tel. 613.260.1348 x 2002
Cel. 613.725.4339