University of Victoria Coach Peter Vizsolyi Announces Retirement After 41 Years Leading Vikes

Courtesy: UVic Athletics

VICTORIA – One of the longest-tenured coaches in the country and a pivotal figure in British Columbia’s swimming history, Peter Vizsolyi, is retiring after 41 years leading the University of Victoria’s swim program.

Following a nationwide search, Ryan Clouston, who has spent the last 14 seasons as the assistant coach alongside Vizsolyi, has been appointed the program’s new head coach.

“After 41 incredible years as the head coach of the Vikes swim team, I am filled with pride, nostalgia, and excitement as I pass the reigns to Ryan. Ryan has been an integral part of our community for more than two decades, starting as a swimmer and growing into a full-time head coach,” said Vizsolyi.

While leading a varsity program for over 40 years is an accomplishment very few can claim, Vizsolyi somehow balanced working as a physician with his own medical practice, acting as the technical director for the Pacific Coast Swimming Association, and sitting on countless governing bodies and committees over the years.

Starting at UVic as a volunteer head coach in 1983 alongside his day job as a family and sports medicine physician, Vizsolyi says that while he enjoyed caring for patients, having his own practice also provided the freedom to pursue his passion as a swim coach.

Under Vizsolyi’s tutelage, Vikes swimmers won 470 national championship/CIS/U SPORTS medals with 58 top 10 finishes. During that time, UVic student-athletes made 19 Olympic and Paralympic appearances, winning 77 international medals at Canadian National, Commonwealth, Pan-Am, Pan-Pac, FISU and Olympic competitions. Among his many accolades, Vizsolyi was named U SPORTS Coach of the Year in 1988 and 1998.

Woven into the fabric of the Vancouver Island swimming community, Vizsolyi helped found Island Swimming in 1988 and was technical director for Island Swimming, the Island National Swim Center and beginning in 2002 the fledgling Pacific Coast Swimming which remains closely affiliated with the UVic swimming program to this day.

The volume of commitments Vizsolyi has juggled over the years is astounding, encompassing various sports administrative and medical roles. His appointments include serving as a Swim BC Performance Committee member, Canadian Swim Coaches Association Board member, Victoria Commonwealth Games Chair, Swim BC and Swimming Natation Canada technical committee member, Pacific Coast Swimming technical director, and designated site physician for the national rowing and men’s basketball teams, among many others.

As the swimming chair for the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games Society, he played a fundamental role in establishing Saanich Commonwealth Place as a high-performance centre. In 2014, he was inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Commonwealth Games Sport Committee.

“Everyone is proud of the successes and the Olympic medals, but the things you remember most are the athletes who overcame obstacles and challenges and the process of helping them through that to reach their goals,” Vizsolyi said.

Vizsolyi will remain an integral part of the Vikes swim program continuing to focus on alumni engagement, technical support, and mentorship; however, he felt it was time to pass the torch to the next generation of up-and-coming talent.

“Ryan’s dedication to the program over the last 14 years has been unparalleled, and I have every confidence that he will lead with the same passion that has defined his time with us thus far. The future is bright, and I am excited to witness the next chapter of our team’s legacy unfold under his guidance,” continued Vizsolyi.

A new era of Vikes swimming

A Vikes swimming alumnus, Clouston began his competitive swimming career at age 10 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As one of the first group of athletes to join the newly formed Pacific Coast Swimming in 2002, Clouston went on to the Vikes for five seasons, graduating with a Bachelor of Physics and a Master of Science in physical oceanography.

Clouston joined the Vikes as an assistant coach in 2010 while also serving as a lead coach for Pacific Coast Swimming alongside the legendary Ron Jacks. Over the past decade, he has been instrumental in the program’s growth and, in 2020, took on the primary responsibility for the Vikes’ day-to-day programming. Clouston has also coached Canada’s open water team for the past two years at the World Aquatics Championships.

“It’s a very exciting new step to be the head coach, having been an athlete and assistant coach with the Vikes for so long.  It will always be a challenge, but one that keeps me relentlessly motivated.  Peter has given me a lot of trust and opportunity over the years, and it’s allowed me to learn and grow as a coach in this great program and coaching great student-athletes.  This has been an invaluable experience that wouldn’t have been possible without Peter’s support,” said Clouston.

Having worked closely together for the past 14 seasons, Vizsolyi says he’s watched Clouston evolve into a remarkable coach and is confident that he can take the varsity swimming program to new heights. While Vizsolyi’s retirement marks the end of an era, it also marks the beginning of a bright new future for Vikes swimming. With Clouston now leading the charge, the team is well-positioned to continue its tradition of excellence.

“While it is difficult to transition and loose the experience of a coach such as Peter, we are excited to know that the start of the next era of Vikes swimming is in great hands. Ryan was unanimously seen as the best person to lead our swimming program into the future. We thank Peter for his for four plus decades of dedication and congratulate Ryan on being appointed our new head coach,” said Director of Varsity Performance Sport, Dr. Nick Clarke.

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MPalota
26 days ago

Congratulations, Peter!