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Aquatics – Swimming

Swimming is one of the world’s oldest sports. The most ancient and famous drawings depicting men swimming are found in the Kebir desert of Egypt and estimated to be about 6000 years old. Swimming is also referenced in many ancient texts, including the Bible, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Swimming was not a part of the ancient Olympic Games, but the Greeks were keen swimmers and held the activity in high regard.

Swimming was on the program of the first modern Olympic Games at Athens 1896 with just four events. As it would be at Paris 1900 and St. Louis 1904, the events were held in open water. A pool was used for the first time in Olympic competition at the London 1908 Games where a 100m outdoor pool was constructed inside the track at the White City Stadium. It was during these Games that representatives from eight European nations met and formed the Fédération International de Natation Amateur (FINA) which remains the international governing body for all aquatics disciplines.

Tera Van Beilen

Women first competed in Olympic swimming competition at the 1912 Games in Stockholm. Paris 1924 marked the debut of the 50m pool, which remains the standard for Olympic swimming events. There are eight competition lanes, bordered by an open lane on either end. Open water swimming returned to the Olympic Games at Beijing 2008 with 10km marathon events for men and women. Swimming has been part of the Pan American Games program since the inaugural edition in 1951.

All pool events begin with preliminary heats. In 50m, 100m and 200m events the 16 fastest swimmers advance to the semifinals from which the eight fastest swimmers advance to the final. In events of 400m and longer there are no semifinals so the eight fastest swimmers (or relay teams) advance directly to the final. If there is a tie for the last advancing placement, the swimmers involved are pitted in a head-to-head swim-off.

Brent Hayden;

Swimmers are seeded according to their qualifying times so that the fastest swimmers are in the centre lanes of the pool while the slowest swimmers are in the outer lanes. Any swimmer who starts before the starting signal is given will be disqualified. There is no warning false start. If the starting signal sounds before the disqualification is declared, the race will continue and the violating swimmers will be disqualified upon completion of the race. If the disqualification is declared before the starting signal sounds, then the remaining swimmers will be called back to start again.


Backstroke - 100m and 200m - Men and Women

Competitors begin the race in the pool, hanging from starting grips rather than diving from the starting blocks as in the other strokes. Swimmers may remain fully underwater during the turn and for a maximum of 15 metres after the start and each turn.

Breaststroke - 100m and 200m - Men and Women

The name of the slowest swimming stroke derives from the way the body sits on the water – on the breast with the shoulders in line with the water’s surface. From the start, the stroke cycle must be one arm stroke (using both arms simultaneously) followed by one leg kick (using both legs simultaneously). During each complete cycle, the swimmer’s head must break the water’s surface.

Butterfly - 100m and 200m - Men and Women

Competitors move both arms simultaneously in a circular pattern while the legs move by using an up-and-down dolphin kick. Swimmers may remain fully under water during the turn and for a maximum of 15 metres after the start and each turn.

Medley Relay - 4x100m - Men and Women

The medleys incorporate all four strokes, with one stroke per each leg of equal distance. The stroke order in the medley relays is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.

Marathon 10km - Men and Women

Open water swimmers are allowed to use any stroke. Races begin with a mass start from a dock or pontoon and are comprised of multiple laps of a course delineated by buoys.

Swimmers are permitted to receive hydration from coaches on a feeding station pontoon during the approximately two hour race. There is much physical contact, particularly at the start and around the turn buoys, as swimmers seek and try to maintain good race position. Competitors will often swim in large packs to draft off one another. The lead pack will thin out as the last lap becomes a sprint to the finish. At the finish, swimmers must hit one of the six touch pads elevated above the water.

Canadian Medallists







GoldGeorge Hodgson1912 StockholmFreestyle 1500m - Men -
GoldGeorge Hodgson1912 StockholmFreestyle 400m - Men -
GoldVictor Davis1984 Los AngelesBreaststroke 200m - Men -
GoldAnne Ottenbrite1984 Los AngelesBreaststroke 200m - Women -
GoldAlex Baumann1984 Los AngelesIndividual Medley 200m - Men -
GoldAlex Baumann1984 Los AngelesIndividual Medley 400m - Men -
GoldMark Tewksbury1992 BarcelonaBackstroke 100m - Men -
SilverGeorge Vernot1920 AntwerpFreestyle 1500m - Men -
SilverElaine Tanner1968 Mexico CityBackstroke 100m - Women -
SilverElaine Tanner1968 Mexico CityBackstroke 200m - Women -
SilverRalph Hutton1968 Mexico CityFreestyle 400m - Men -
SilverBruce Robertson1972 MunichButterfly 100m - Men -
SilverLeslie Cliff1972 MunichIndividual Medley 400m - Women -
SilverCheryl Gibson1976 MontrealIndividual Medley 400m - Women -
SilverClayton Evans, Gary MacDonald, Graham Smith, Stephen Pickell, Bruce Robertson1976 MontrealMedley Relay 4x100m - Men -
SilverVictor Davis1984 Los AngelesBreaststroke 100m - Men -
SilverAnne Ottenbrite1984 Los AngelesBreaststroke 100m - Women -
SilverSandy Goss, Mike West, Tom Ponting, Victor Davis1984 Los AngelesMedley Relay 4x100m - Men -
SilverSandy Goss, Mark Tewksbury, Tom Ponting, Victor Davis1988 SeoulMedley Relay 4x100m - Men -
SilverMarianne Limpert1996 AtlantaIndividual Medley 200m - Women -
SilverRyan Cochrane2012 LondonFreestyle 1500m - Men -
BronzeGeorge Vernot1920 AntwerpFreestyle 400m - Men -
BronzeF. Munroe Bourne, Garnet Ault, James Thompson, Walter Spence1928 AmsterdamFreestyle Relay 4x200m - Men -
BronzeAngela Coughlin, Elaine Tanner, Marilyn Corson, Marion Lay1968 Mexico CityFreestyle Relay 4x100m - Women -
BronzeDonna-Marie Gurr1972 MunichBackstroke 200m - Women -
BronzeBruce Robertson, Erik Fish, Robert Kasting, William Mahony, William Kennedy1972 MunichMedley Relay 4x100m - Men -
BronzeNancy Garapick1976 MontrealBackstroke 100m - Women -
BronzeNancy Garapick1976 MontrealBackstroke 200m - Women -
BronzeShannon Smith1976 MontrealFreestyle 400m - Women -
BronzeBecky Smith1976 MontrealIndividual Medley 400m - Women -
BronzeAnne Jardin, Barbara Clark, Becky Smith, Gail Amundrud, Debbie Clarke1976 MontrealFreestyle Relay 4x100m - Women -
BronzeAnne Jardin, Robin Corsiglia, Susan Sloan, Wendy Hogg, Debbie Clarke1976 MontrealMedley Relay 4x100m - Women -
BronzeMike West1984 Los AngelesBackstroke 100m - Men -
BronzeCameron Henning1984 Los AngelesBackstroke 200m - Men -
BronzeAnne Ottenbrite, Michelle MacPherson, Pamela Rai, Reema Abdo1984 Los AngelesMedley Relay 4x100m - Women -
BronzeAllison Higson, Andrea Nugent, Jane Kerr, Keltie Duggan, Lori Melien, Patricia Noall1988 SeoulMedley Relay 4x100m - Women -
BronzeJon Cleveland, Marcel Gery, Mark Tewksbury, Stephen Clarke, Tom Ponting1992 BarcelonaMedley Relay 4x100m - Men -
BronzeCurtis Myden1996 AtlantaIndividual Medley 200m - Men -
BronzeCurtis Myden1996 AtlantaIndividual Medley 400m - Men -
BronzeCurtis Myden2000 SydneyIndividual Medley 400m - Men -
BronzeRyan Cochrane2008 BeijingFreestyle 1500m - Men -
BronzeBrent Hayden2012 LondonFreestyle 100m - Men -
BronzeRichard Weinberger2012 LondonMarathon 10km - Men -
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