Manitoba’s hall of fame swimmers, divers
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/08/2022 (299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
While Manitobans are enjoying the heat of summer, let’s jump into the pool and remember athletes, who made an impact on water sports provincially and beyond.
When the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame inducted its first group in 1980, seven athletes, two builders and one team made up the initial class. As might be expected, athletes from the most prominent sports — hockey (Bill Mosienko), football (Fritzie Hanson), curling (Ken Watson), and athletics (Jimmy Ball and Eric Coy) were selected. It was also no surprise that Cec Browne, a multi-sport athlete who was named our province’s athlete of the century (1870-1970) in Manitoba’s centennial year, was similarly honoured.
What must have been a surprise came when the ‘old boys’ selection committee included a female diver, Judy Moss, as the seventh athlete. Moss began her diving career at the family cottage at the Lake of the Woods. She later took instruction at the Winnipeg Winter Club and in 1932 won both the Winter Club and the provincial springboard championships. Two years later, she won the Canadian springboard title.
In 1934, Moss didn’t qualify for the Canadian British Empire Games team at the trials held in Hamilton. Members of the Winter Club raised the $300 necessary to include her on the team. In London, U.K., the 18-year-old defeated divers from Canada and 10 other nations to win gold in the three-metre springboard competition.
Vivian (King) Thompson joined Moss in the HOF in 1983. The freestyle and backstroke swimmer won more than 20 titles at the provincial, western and Canadian championships and was a member of Canada’s team at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.
Two years later, Cay Kerr became the next swimmer in the HOF. Her list of accomplishments in both racing and synchronized swimming from the 1930s to the 1960s would fill a column. Just as an example, in 1940, she set three Canadian records, won five national titles, and was a finalist for Canadian female athlete of the year.
In 1986, diver Janet Nutter, who won gold medals in the 1975 Pan Games and the 1978 Commonwealth Games, entered the shrine. The class of 1991 included Ethel (Gilbert) Bieber and the first male swimmer, Bob Hamerton. At age 14, Gilbert won her first Canadian title in 1934 and took her last individual championship in 1941. The Second World War prevented her from competing internationally. Hamerton was the province’s best male freestyle swimmer in the mid-1930s and swam for Canada at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Later, in masters competitions, he set several Canadian records.
In the 21st century, freestyle specialist Shannon Shakespeare, who swam for Canada iat both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, and breaststroker Rhiannon Leier-Blacher, a 2000 and 2004 Olympian, were inducted to the HOF. Also becoming honoured members were Paralympian swimmers Tim McIsaac, Joanne (Mucz) Vergara, and Kirby Cote, all many-time gold medalists at the international Paralympic Games.
In 2019 as part of a veterans’ induction class, Vera (Tustin) Gilbert, who dominated in the pool provincially in the 1920s, became an honoured member. After retiring as a competitor, she coached at the Women’s Amateur Swim Club where two of her students were Cay Kerr and Vivian Thompson.
For more information on the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, visit www.sportmanitoba.ca/hall-of-fame/
In future columns, rowers, paddlers, skiers, and water sport builders will be remembered.
T. Kent Morgan
Memories of Sport
Memories of Sport appears every second week in the Canstar Community News weeklies. Kent Morgan can be contacted at 204-489-6641 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org