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Volunteer recognized for passing on love of swimming

News –

By Rita Mingo

For decades, Dan MacGregor has attempted to instil the love of swimming into hearts and minds.

For that long-term dedication, he is receiving Swimming Canada’s 2023 Volunteer Contribution Award.

The Volunteer Contribution Award recognizes long-term contributions and promotion of Swimming Canada’s overall goals, consistent with the vision, mission and core values of Swimming Canada.

MacGregor began volunteering at the Stanley Park Swim Club in Calgary at the age of 16. A former competitive swimmer, he coached the Stanley Park Tritons, starting with a team of 35 that eventually blossomed to 120.

“It took a lot of recruiting but we had lots to choose from,” he recalled. “Swimmers as young as five and as old as 19. We had a lot of support not only from management of the pool but also the City.”

In 1995, he went to the Gay Games in New York and found that he was the only swimmer who hailed between Ottawa and Vancouver. That prompted him to help start up the Different Strokes Swim Club in Calgary, with which he still volunteers. The club is inclusive of LGBTQ+ and their supporters.

He recalls bringing a rookie who was learning to swim back to the surface after he sank to the bottom.

“He still swims today, eight or 10 years later, and he did his first triathlon last summer, 750 metres in the pool,” MacGregor noted. “It was great.”

His coaching now is mainly with Masters level swimmers.

“They get good instruction but more importantly what they get is camaraderie with people with a like mind,” he pointed out. “There is a lot to be said for swimming.”

MacGregor routinely prepares his charges for the IGLA (International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics) meets, if they’re attending, as well as various triathlons around the world.

“I think more than anything else it’s that at my stage of life it’s something that keeps me engaged with other people and other people that I can identify with their aspirations and where they want to go,” he explained.

“Some years ago we went down to San Francisco to attend a conference and I was listening to Doc Counsilman, the coach to Mark Spitz,” he related.

“One of the things he brought up was that swimmers do not go forward by action-reaction. They go forward by Bernoulli’s Principle. He explained it and he said this is what makes you go up,” MacGregor recalls. “He showed various videos, which was breaking edge back in 1971. I still have the hand-out he gave out that day.”

MacGregor – an accountant with a Physical Education degree from the University of Alberta – will continue to offer guidance.

“The positive feedback you get from the participants in the pool is always I think heart-warming and a pat on the back,” he said. “We did a butterfly workout the other day and people got out of the pool and said, ‘Thank you. It was something I never imagined doing.’ That’s the thing.”