By Rita Mingo
Sue Jackson’s love of the sport of swimming goes back decades.
“Elaine Tanner, Mighty Mouse, was my first swim crush, watching her back in the day,” related Jackson. “I kind of hung on to that. My kids were water rats. Swimming is great and I’m still in it.”
After years of happily devoting her time at the local and provincial level, Jackson has earned the Swim Canada Volunteer Contribution award for 2021. She shares the honour with another long-time devotee, Linda Metcalfe of Langley, B.C.
“I was very humbled to receive this,” said Jackson. “It’s a great organization with so many amazing volunteers.”
“I was just a little bit overwhelmed with the unexpectedness of it,” echoed Metcalfe. “When you do this kind of stuff, you’re not thinking about what am I doing to get an award. You just put your head down, do your thing. It was lovely and unexpected.”
Jackson is past president of Swim Nova Scotia, after being at the helm of the Wolfville Tritons Swim Club’s administration for 13 years.
“One of our big highlights during my tenure was to get David Sharpe (of Halifax) on the Olympic team,” Jackson, a Level 5 official out of Gran-Pre’ explained. “I remember I was flying to Montreal for that event, so I wasn’t at the pool when he made the team, but it was amazing to watch the replays.
“Just growing the sport; that grassroots, that bottom of the pyramid, all those little kids … I love the continuity in the sport, I love that family feel. I’m a fan!”
Metcalfe was president of Swim B.C. for four years and continues to work closely with the new administration. She had certain objectives when she fell into that position and says she wishes she could have done even more.
“Because a board is a constantly moving organization and Swim B.C. is constantly changing, I don’t think you ever feel like you’re complete,” noted Metcalfe, also a Level 5 official. “When I came onto the board, my ultimate goal was really to improve communication between the Swim B.C. board and the executive director and have that flow through to the members. I just really wanted to see more transparency and for the members to know what was going on in the province, even if it was nothing going on.
“I think at the time I went on the board there was a lot of mistrust from the members toward Swim B.C. and I didn’t think that needed to be there. If you communicate and are transparent, you earn people’s trust.”
The past couple of seasons have been anomalous from a swimming perspective and to have things open up last year, at least for a while, was a blessing for both these individuals.
“We didn’t have a lot of things to celebrate,” pointed out Metcalfe, whose husband is coach of the Langley Olympians Swim Club. “Coming back, we were all in the same boat. What do we do again? How do these swim meets work? But it didn’t take long to see familiar faces and jump back in.”
In the fall, before Omicron shut everything down again, Jackson recalled officiating at an AUS event at Acadia University.
“Before anybody started, everyone started clapping. It was truly a goosebump, tear-in-the-eye moment because we were back and I still get that feeling.”
Metcalfe’s career as a financial advisor in Langley keeps her extremely busy, but swimming will continue to be there for her.
“I’ll always be on the deck, to go into my golden years officiating,” she said.
Jackson, too, will be a constant presence at the pool.
“I recently retired as a lab supervisor in Nova Scotia and I’ve discovered between Covid and retirement that I could easily become a total and complete hermit,” she added. “I need something to keep me out of the house, besides grandchildren, so swimming will definitely continue to be part of my adventures.”