OTTAWA – Montana Champagne learned at an early age about Victor Davis’s importance to Canadian swimming. He continues to feel Davis’s impact today as he was named one of the Victor Davis Memorial Award recipients for 2020-21
The Victor Davis Memorial Fund was established in memory of Davis, who had a remarkable swimming career for Canada. His success extended to the Olympic level where he won four medals including gold in 200-m breaststroke at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games.
Shortly after his retirement from competitive swimming, Davis was tragically struck down in a hit-and-run incident at the age of 25. Davis’s heart, liver, kidneys and corneas were donated and transplanted. Years later, his legacy still carries on and he continues to inspire current and future Canadian swimmers.
Each year, Canadian swimmers are selected to receive a financial award from the Victor Davis Memorial Fund that recognizes his impact on swimming in Canada. The fund has $205,000 to help offset training costs of more than 160 up-and-coming athletes, many of whom have gone on to represent Canada at Olympic Games and other high-level international events.
GO Kingfish product Champagne, a standout for Dave Heinbuch’s University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, is also no stranger to Davis’s story.
“I actually learned about Victor Davis pretty early because I was friends with the (Tabitha and Ashton Baumann, the children of Davis’s teammate Alex Baumann). So I know his story and their rivalry in different events,” said Champagne. “I know a lot about Victor Davis. He was pretty amazing at this sport so it’s an honour to get that award.”
Champagne, who represented Canada at the 2019 Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy, also elaborated on what the bursary has helped him do.
“I used it for training costs and travel costs,” he said, noting that a large portion went to traveling to the 2020 Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials, presented by Bell, last month in Toronto. Having that support helped Champagne capture silver in the men’s 200-m butterfly.
Justin Fotherby, coached by Tina Hoeben of KISU Swim Club in Penticton, B.C., another recipient of the Victor Davis Award, was thankful for the help to reach trials.
“It’s an honour. Only six swimmers got it and it’s great to receive,” said Fotherby, 17, who placed 6th in the 400-m individual medley.
Champagne and Fotherby are joined by four more Victor Davis Award winners to round out the recipients for 2020-2021:
Alexander Axon, Markham Aquatic Club
Coach: Sean Baker
Alexander Axon of Markham, Ont., posted Canada’s best ever results at that time at the 2018 FINA open water world juniors with a fifth-place finish in the boys five-kilometre race in the 14-15 age group. Axon proved to be training hard in the pool as well in the past years with a number of good performances at the 2020 Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials last month. Axon captured three medals at trials, two of them being silver (800-m & 1500-m freestyle).
Ella Jansen, Etobicoke Swim Club
Coach: Robert Novak
Ella Jansen of Burlington, Ont., has been breaking open records since she was 14 years old. In 2019, Jansen came 2nd in the 1500-m freestyle at the Canadian Junior Championships. Now 15 years old, Jansen recently placed 4th in both the 200-m butterfly and the 1500-m freestyle at the 2020 Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials last month.
Quinn Matteis, Windsor Aquatic Club
Coach: Mike McWha
Quinn Matteis of Chatham, Ont., won four gold at the Ontario Swimming Championships in March 2020 just as all competitions and events were coming to a stop due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Matteis also won gold in the 2km Ontario open water championships and enjoys both types of swimming. Matteis returned to the pool at the 2020 Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials last month but says he wants to focus on longer distance swimming. His long-term goal is to be on the Olympic Team for the Paris 2024 Games.
Genevieve Sasseville, Chatham Y Pool Sharks
Coach: Don Burton
Genevieve Sasseville of Chatham, Ont., represented Canada at the 2019 World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary. She captured two bronze medals as part of the women’s 4×200-m freestyle relay and the 4×100-m medley relay. Now 18 years old, Sasseville competed at the 2020 Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials and came 8th in the 200-m butterfly. She looks at the Paris 2024 Games as her best chance at making an Olympic team.
The Victor Davis Fund was established in 1990 and relies on donations, large or small, to carry on the legacy of one of Canada’s most cherished swimmers. Swimming Canada encourages members of the swimming community to contribute at www.swimming.ca/donations