Ottawa, ON – Throughout the year long celebration, Swimming Canada will be highlighting special moments from the last 100 years on the website each week. This week we look at the history of Swim BC. With just about the largest coastline in all of Canada, as well as the mildest climate in the country, it’s not surprising that British Columbia has a long and rich tradition and history in the sport of competitive swimming.
The early 1900’s
While CASA (Canadian Amateur Swimming Association) was formed in 1909, the BC section was not far behind, joining alongside Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Alberta in 1912.
In partnering with CASA, the provincial sections also adopted the constitutional rules of CASA: “to promote, foster and perpetuate swimming, protecting it from professionalism, establishing swimming championships, and uniting swimming clubs throughout Canada in making the art a national pastime, sport and manly form of recreation”. I’d say we’ve all come a long way.
In BC, while Provincial swimming championships in BC date back to 1906, it wasn’t until 1911 that results from these competitions were recorded. And it was on October 24, 1911, at the Victoria YMCA 20 yard pool that we have the first results for swimming competitions in a pool (or “bath”, as indoor pools were sometimes called). The winning time in the Men’s 100 yard Freestyle was 1:13.60, with the Women’s winning time being 1:36.60. Today, BC’s Brent Hayden covers that distance in just a little over 40 seconds.
In that same year on November 11, George Simpson of Vancouver broke the Canadian record in the one mile swim at the Victoria YMCA in 34 minutes 26 seconds swimming breaststroke. Today, BC’s Ryan Cochrane would cover that same distance (admittedly, using the slightly faster “freestyle” technique) in well under 16 minutes.
Not long afterwards in 1913 one of the oldest Canadian clubs still in operation today, Victoria Amateur Swim Club (VASC), was formed by former members of the Victoria YMCA swim club. 95 years later VASC member Ryan Cochrane won a bronze medal in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Cochrane’s bronze medal in Beijing continued the almost century long tradition of international success for BC swimmers.