Forty years ago, Nick Thierry, coach, former swimmer, architect and artist started publishing SwimNews magazine, then called SWIM Canada magazine. He wrote all but two articles in that first issue in February 1974. Over the ensuing few months, the list of contributors grew into a who’s who of coach-writers, from Cecil Colwin (author of Breakthrough Swimming), who was a contributor for as long as Nick, writing from that first issue in 1974 until his passing in 2012 to Howard Firby and George Gates.
Howard Firby is a legend in Canadian swimming. He also happened to be my first age-group coach at Vic-O in 1985.
Firby was also an artist, and his friendship with Nick ran deeper than just swimming, with Nick saving their correspondence (usually Firby’s thoughts on the sport) in a binder he kept in his office. Until the rebranding in 1997, the magazine was truly Canadian, with mostly Canadian swimmers gracing the cover and Canadians doing the writing and taking the photos.
Wendy Quirk (Johnson) graced the cover just months before she won
silver in the 400 free at the Commonwealth Games. She went on to finish
6th and 5th in the 100 and 200 fly at the '76 Olympics in her hometown
of Montreal. She also won 2 bronze at the '78 Worlds, 3 golds, 1 silver,
and 1 bronze at the '78 Commonwealth Games, and a silver and bronze at
the '79 Pan Ams. She was also part of the '80 Olympic team that did not
compete due to Canada's boycott of the Games. A former World Record
holder, today Wendy is one of only a small number women coaches in
Canada, working as Assistant Coach at Cascade in Calgary.
Nick would have many coaches contribute over the next 4 decades, including more recently, breaststroke guru Jozsef Nagy. This month we welcome Canadian age-group coach Delano Ducheck who is reviving and enhancing SwimNews’ “Making Waves” segment with interviews from age-group coaches and their swimmers across Canada and around the world.
In tribute to the past 40 years, we have several guest and new writers this month, including Suzanne Weckend, a Canadian Commonwealth Games swimmer (’94) and Triathlete (’06). Today she is the Athlete Representative on the Executive Board of the Commonwealth Games Federation, representing athletes from 71 Commonwealth Nations. She shares her experiences as an athlete leader and activist, underlying the importance of raising our voices and helping shape our sports.
In the ultimate homage to Nick, we welcome our newest contributor to the family, The Swim Scout, Elliot Meena. Elliot takes Nick’s lifelong work, collecting times swum all over the world, and performs a statistical analysis to reveal meaningful data for swimmers and coaches. His multi-part series, “Establishing the Baseline,” starts this month.