The Swimming Canada Board of Directors will have a new look as Cheryl Gibson moves on to a new challenge in international sport, and Dean Crawford succeeds her as president.
Effective Saturday, Gibson stepped down from the board to assume her new role representing Aquatics Canada on the FINA Bureau, the international governing body for aquatic sports. Aquatics Canada, which represents the four aquatic sports, selected Gibson last fall, and the Union Americana de Natacion (UANA) accepted the nomination.
Gibson was a multiple international medallist over a nine-year national team career. Her many accolades include induction to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and the Swimming Canada Circle of Excellence. She served on the Swimming Canada board since 2012 and previously served on the board from 1983-1994. Gibson has overseen Canada’s emergence as a leading swimming nation since taking on the role of president in 2015.
A lawyer and chartered professional accountant, Gibson is Counsel at the law firm of Dentons Canada LLP and is recognized as a leading expert in the field of Canadian tax law. Her resume includes roles as a Governor of the Canadian Tax Foundation and as a member of the Administration and Finance Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
“I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in aquatic sports at every level, and I’ve appreciated every moment of it. I’m especially proud of the work we have done as a board,” Gibson said. “I’m looking forward to taking on this next challenge in international aquatics and helping to make our sports even better. Dean has vast experience in sport and has made many meaningful contributions over the years as vice-president of Swimming Canada. I know the board will be in good hands with Dean.”
Crawford was a member of the Canadian eights rowing crew that edged out the home-crowd favourite Americans for gold at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games. Crawford was inducted, along with the rest of his 1984 gold medal-winning crew, into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1985, Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2003 and Canadian Rowing Hall of Fame in 2019.
“My high performance sport background comes from a totally different water sport, where the goal is not to get wet,” Crawford said with a laugh. “I don’t talk about the gold medal a lot, it’s not the first thing I talk about.”
Crawford is a seasoned IT professional with decades of experience in higher education and technology. The Director, Shared Systems and Technology, with BCNET, is a certified Project Management Professional who joined the board in 2013. He has been vice-president for six years and chair of the Policy and Governance Committee for seven years. Previously he served on the board of Swim BC from 2005-2013, including as president from 2007. Prior to that he was the first president of Pacific Coast Swimming, beginning in 2002. Crawford said his experience has taught him the importance of close communication with the provincial sections.
“I have a unique perspective in that I’ve been a club president and a provincial section president. Serving as president of Swim BC shaped a lot of decisions I’ve made on the Swimming Canada board. I definitely want to see more involvement from the broader community,” Crawford said. “The provincial sections are our members, the clubs are the members of the provincial sections, and the athletes are the members of the clubs. Although we touch them all, there’s a hierarchy that has to be considered when we’re making decisions.”
Crawford got involved in the sport by volunteering as a timer when his daughter Nicole, now 30, was 12 years old. From there he became a Level 5 official, then got involved in club policy and governance as Nicole aged out of the sport.
Crawford graduated from the University of Victoria with degrees in computer science and economics, and was named the 1985 Male Athlete of the Year. Crawford married his wife Belinda Macey in 2000. Their daughter Céline is 20, and he also has a son, Dillon, 27, from his previous marriage.
He’s looking forward to continue the work spearheaded by Gibson over the past six years.
“We’ve been ensuring the committees are getting out and more involved in the community. I hope we can continue to strengthen that and we’ve talked about how we can involve the provincial sections more,” Crawford said.
While Gibson’s experience will be missed on the board, Crawford says she is the right choice for the FINA Bureau.
“She’s dedicated and very clear of thought,” Crawford said. “She’s not going to back down from a challenge. She’s going to move forward and she’s going to find a solution that can work for everybody.”
“Cheryl has been not only an Olympic medallist but – just as important – a lifetime volunteer to the sport of swimming,” added CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “She has given thousands of hours of her life to help make the sport better domestically and globally, and she’s not stopping yet.
“Personally, she has been a tremendous mentor and friend. Under her years of leadership, Swimming Canada has grown exponentially, including weathering the storm of COVID-19 this past year-plus. Cheryl has always gone above and beyond to help lead the goals of the organization.”
Mary C. Lyne, chief administrative officer of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, will take over Crawford’s vice-president role.