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Swimming Canada announces annual award winners

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OTTAWA – The annual Swimming Canada Awards and Recognition Reception was busier than usual this year.

The organization hosted a reception at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, where several members of the swimming community were honoured for their contributions to the sport.

With Canada stepping up to host the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games this year, the Volunteer of the Year Award was shared by five outstanding volunteers who were major contributors to the success of those events.

Paul Corkum of Pickering, Ont., (Pan Am Games Swimming Sport Organizing Committee Lead), Linda Kiefer of Toronto and Nicole Normandin of Montreal (Pan Am Games Open Water Swimming SOC Co-Leads), Jocelyne McLean of Gatineau, Que., (Parapan Am Games SOC Lead) and Jeff Holmes of Burlington, Ont., (Parapan Am Games Meet Manager) were the honourees.

The award is normally given to one volunteer to recognize important contributions over the previous 18-month period.

“In an exceptional year of Canada hosting world-class events, these volunteers had to put their best foot forward on behalf of our country and our sport,” said James Hood, chairman of Swimming Canada’s awards committee. “These are the unsung heroes working tirelessly behind the scenes. Without them these events could not have happened so successfully.”

Corkum was also recognized with the Ken Filippelli Award of Excellence in Officiating, given to someone who exemplifies the true spirit of the sport of swimming, demonstrating fair play, integrity, respect for others and a commitment to swimming.

Meanwhile, the President’s Award was presented to Toronto’s Anne Bell, Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Sport Committee Chair for swimming. This recognition is awarded at the discretion of Swimming Canada’s president to athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, sports leaders and builders who have made a significant and profound impact on the development and capacity of swimming in Canada.

“Anne was faced with many challenges, but stepped forward, took the reins, and skillfully used her knowledge and management skills,” Hood said. “She played various roles from mediator to leader, taskmaster to intermediary, all with the eye on ensuring that Canada hosted the best-ever Games.”

The Volunteer Contribution Award, which recognizes long-term contributions and promotion of Swimming Canada’s overall goals, consistent with the vision, mission and core values of Swimming Canada, went to Andre Despatie of St-Jerome, Que.

Despatie has been involved in swimming since 1995 and sits on boards at all levels of the sport from the club and the region to the Fédération de natation du Québec. His past recognition includes Swimming Canada’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award for his leadership with the Canadian Age Group Swimming Championships. In the same year, he was named Official of the Year by FNQ.

Swimming Canada will hold its annual general meeting Saturday, which will include the election of directors for 2015-16.