Oleksiak, Condorelli Named Canadian Swimmers of the Year

TORONTO – Swimming Canada honoured some of the greatest athletes in its history on Friday, recognizing the accomplishments of 2016 and the many years leading up to it.

As part of the second Canadian Swimming Congress in partnership with the Canadian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association, several awards were given to swimmers, coaches and volunteers who contributed to one of the most impressive Olympic and Paralympic seasons of all time.

Sixteen-year-old Penny Oleksiak emerged as the Female Swimmer of the Year following an unprecedented Olympic debut. The Torontonian became an international superstar after winning four medals, including a gold and Olympic record in the 100-m freestyle, and becoming Canada’s most decorated summer Olympian in a single Games. This was the second consecutive year in which the female recipient was the youngest member of the national team, with the honour going to Emily Overholt of West Vancouver in 2015.

On the Paralympic side, it was Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., who was awarded with the Team Aquatic Supplies Female Para-swimmer of the Year for the third year in a row. Also a four-time medallist, with three appearances atop the podium, the 20-year-old set world records in the S10 50-m and 400-m freestyle en route to establishing herself as a household name in Rio. Rivard made her second Paralympic appearance in Rio after competing in London four years ago, where she won a silver medal in the 400-m freestyle.

Nicolas-Guy Turbide of Québec City was named Canada’s Team Aquatic Supplies Male Para-swimmer of the year, with the highlight being his Paralympic bronze medal-winning performance in the S13 100-m backstroke. Turbide, 19, became the first visually impaired Canadian swimmer to break the one-minute barrier in the race, re-setting his own Americas record in the process. He also finished in eighth place in the 50-m freestyle.

Rounding out the annual award recipients were Santo Condorelli of Kenora, Ont., and Moose Jaw, Sask., native Richard Weinberger, who trains at the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Vancouver. An Olympic rookie heading into Rio, 21-year-old Condorelli earned Canada’s best male result with his fourth place finish in the 100-m freestyle, and set a new Canadian record in the 100-m butterfly. Weinberger, 26, is an established veteran of the Canadian open water program, and finished 17th in the men’s marathon swimming event in Rio. This is Weinberger’s sixth consecutive award in the open water category.

Earlier in the day, Swimming Canada President Cheryl Gibson presented Ryan Cochrane (Victoria, B.C.) and Benoît Huot (Longueuil, Que.) with the President’s Award for being outstanding ambassadors both in and out of the pool.

The President’s Award is presented at the president’s discretion to recognize recipients who have made a long-term significant and profound impact on the development and capacity of swimming in Canada.

Cochrane has been a national team standout since his first Olympic appearance in 2008, where he won a bronze medal in the 1500-m freestyle. The 27-year-old also has an Olympic silver medal under his belt, and was named Canada’s Male Swimmer of the Year for eight consecutive years between 2008-2015. The Rio team co-captain played a large role in keeping Canadian swimming at an elite level during this time, and is arguably the greatest distance swimmer Canada has ever produced. Cochrane has recently started a swimming tour across Canada, offering stroke clinics to local swim clubs.

Huot is a seasoned veteran of Paralympic swimming, making his debut at the age of 16 in the year 2000. Sixteen years later, with five Paralympic Games to his name, Huot is tied with Michael Edgson as the second most decorated Canadian Paralympic swimmer in history with an incredible 20 medals – nine gold, five silver and six bronze. On top of his athletic accomplishments, Huot is a highly revered figure in the Paralympic movement, aiming to bring recognition and equality to athletes of all abilities. On top of being a spokesperson for several charitable foundations throughout his career, Huot is also the founder of the Benoît Huot Foundation, providing financial support to disabled student athletes while educating young people on the importance of physical activity.

Also recognized were the respective coaches of the Swimmer of the Year Award winners, who all played an integral role in preparing their athletes for international success. Among those acknowledged were Ben Titley (Oleksiak), France Latendresse (Rivard), Marc-André Pelletier (Turbide) and Steve Price (Weinberger). Titley also coached three other Olympic medallists in Sandrine Mainville, Chantal Van Landeghem and Michelle Williams, all of whom were members of the bronze medal-winning 4×100-m freestyle relay.

To conclude the evening, Swimming Canada recognized two long-time volunteers for their involvement at the local, provincial and national levels.

Lynn Sitland was the recipient of the Volunteer Contribution Award for over 35 years of officiating. Sitland has taken on many administrative roles for the Yarmouth Y Whitecaps and Swim Nova Scotia, and now acts as the Chair of the Swim Nova Scotia Officials Committee.

Patti Clarkson was the 2016 Volunteer of the Year award winner, playing an essential role in organizing both the Canadian Age Group Championships in Calgary and IGLA Championships in Edmonton, just one week apart from one another. This combined with her position as Chair of the Alberta Officials Committee made Clarkson an excellent recipient for the award.

Full list of 2016 award winners:

  • Female Swimmer of the Year: Penny Oleksiak
  • Male Swimmer of the Year: Santo Condorelli
  • Open Water Swimmer of the Year: Richard Weinberger
  • Female Para-swimmer of the Year: Aurélie Rivard
  • Male Para-swimmer of the Year: Nicolas-Guy Turbide
  • President’s Award: Ryan Cochrane & Benoît Huot
  • Coach of the Year (Female Olympic Program): Ben Titley
  • Coach of the Year (Open Water Program): Steve Price
  • Coach of the Year (Female Paralympic Program): France Latendresse
  • Coach of the Year (Male Paralympic Program): Marc-André Pelletier
  • Volunteer Contribution Award: Lynn Sitland
  • Volunteer of the Year: Patti Clarkson

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7 years ago

Article title is incorrect. Good ole’ Santo won the men’s swimmer of the year, not Cochrane.

Jack Burnelllylily
7 years ago

Open water coach of the year Steve price? Really? Weinberger got bronze at 2012, then under Steve gets 18th.

So step 1: get good swimmers from another program
Step 2: make them worse
Step 3: profit??

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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