Aquatics Canada Aquatiques Announces Annual Award Winners

June 16, 2022 3:51 pm Published by

(Ottawa, ON, January 13, 2022) Aquatics Canada Aquatiques (ACA) is pleased to announce the 2021 ACA Award recipients recognizing the outstanding achievements and contributions of its athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, staff, organizations and partners during the year 2021.  On behalf of ACA, we would like to congratulate all recipients for their outstanding achievements and contributions to Canadian aquatic sports.

Below are the recipients of the 2021 ACA Awards:

Male Athlete of the Year – Brent Hayden (Swimming)

Brent Hayden finished 9th in the men’s 50m Freestyle and led off the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay to a fourth-place finish at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Brent also became the oldest swimmer to swim sub 48 seconds in the 100m freestyle in history. 

Female Athlete of the Year – Margaret Mac Neil (Swimming)

Margaret Mac Neil won three medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games including a gold medal in the 100m butterfly along with a silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay and bronze in the 4x100m medley relay.

Team of the Year – Jennifer Abel and Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu (Diving)

In 2021, Jennifer Abel and Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu won a silver medal in the 3m synchro event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and at the Tokyo 2021 World Cup.

Coach of the Year – Ben Titley (Swimming)

Ben Titley coached several medal-winning swimmers at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, including the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay that won a silver and Margaret Mac Neil who won gold in the 100m butterfly. Ben coached Penny Oleksiak to three Olympic Medals in Tokyo, making her the most decorated Canadian Olympian with seven medals over two Olympic Games. Ben also coached Kylie Masse to silver medals in the 100m and 200m backstroke, continuing her streak of winning a medal in the 100m backstroke at every major championships and Games in which she has competed since 2015. Other athletes Ben coached were Kayla Sanchez, Rebecca Smith, Taylor Ruck, and Sydney Pickrem.

Officials Award of Excellence – Marie-Claude Deslières (Water Polo)

Marie-Claude was a referee at the Olympics in Tokyo in Water Polo. This was the third time she has represented Canada at the Olympics as a referee, a rare and exceptional accomplishment. 

Volunteer of the Year – Cheryl Gibson (Past President of Swimming Canada’s Board of Directors and current FINA Bureau Member)

Cheryl Gibson was a long-time board member and President of Swimming Canada and has been a strong leader, advocate and builder for swimming and aquatics in Canada. Cheryl’s recent appointment to the FINA Bureau is a testament to her impact over the past several years and her ability to contribute to the advancement of the aquatic sports in Canada and internationally.

Sport Executive of the Year – John Atkinson (Swimming)

John Atkinson has been an advocate for sport in Canada throughout the pandemic. His work to draw attention to sport as an “essential service” has continued to put aquatics in the forefront. On top of this, John led Swimming Canada to achieve a 6-medal performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after Canada was one of the most negatively impacted countries due to shutdown of facilities. John continues to be a leader, both nationally and internationally, in the sport of swimming.  

Media Award of the Year – Roseline Filion (Radio-Canada)

Roseline Filion, a two-time Olympic medalist, attended her first Olympic Games as a media representative at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Acting as the mixed-zone reporter for all aquatic events, she did a phenomenal job covering the results and highlighting the exceptional talent and efforts of every Canadian athlete. Back home, she covered the Paralympic Games daily on Radio-Canada’s morning show, where she followed Paralympic swimming with great enthusiasm.

President’s Honour Roll – Lisa Schott (Artistic Swimming), Conrad Hadubiak (Water Polo) and Ed Evelly (Swimming)

Lisa Schott (Artistic Swimming) – As the long-time president of ACA and the current Chair of FINA’s Technical Artistic Swimming Committee, Lisa has been heavily involved in the growth of Artistic Swimming both domestically and internationally, while also promoting the values of the ACA Board of Directors and its member NSOs. Lisa has contributed above and beyond to support the mission, vision and goals of ACA.

Conrad Hadubiak (Water Polo) – Conrad was President of Water Polo Canada for eight years (2013-2021) and a member of the Board for another four years (2009-2013). Through his term as President of Water Polo Canada, he offered stability and continuity which allowed the organization to become one of the best water polo organizations in the world, culminating this year with Canada’s participation in the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Conrad was a leader in the drive for safe sport and has put Water Polo Canada at the forefront of safe sport practice.

Ed Evelly (Swimming) – Ed volunteered 22 years and five terms with FINA’s Technical Master’s Committee. During his five terms with FINA, he spent one term as a member, two terms as the Honorary Secretary and two terms as the Chair. Ed has been a volunteer in aquatic sports for 38 years including four years as the President of Swimming Newfoundland and Labrador and 12 years on the Swimming Canada Board of Directors. He was also a member of Swimming Canada’s Executive Committee as the Vice President of Corporate Affairs for four years. 

Hall of Fame Nominee – Claude Lavoie, Water Polo

Claude Lavoie has been a pioneer in the field of women’s water polo in Canada and across the world. Every woman who plays water polo today owes a debt of gratitude to Claude Lavoie. His fight for women’s rights in water polo contributed not only to transforming the ability of women to compete in the sport around the world. 

In Canada, he was at the forefront of women’s water polo, first as a coach in Ste-Foy and then at the international level leading the first Canadian women’s team at an international tournament in 1977. He was also coach of the Canadian women’s team that participated in water polo as an exhibition sport at the World Championships in Berlin in 1978. His resumé also includes the Presidency of WPC and numerous contributions to event organization from World Championships (2005) to the FINA Cup (1983) and the first Women’s Junior World Championships (1997).

Already an advocate for women’s sports in the 1970’s, he was instrumental in the charge to have FINA finally recognize women’s water polo as an official sport at the World Aquatics Championships in 1986 in Madrid.

His work in support of women’s water polo did not stop there. With a few other individuals at the world level, he kept pushing and finally after years of lobbying, women’s water polo was finally recognized as an Olympic sport in 1997 for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. A passionate and determined individual, Claude always pushed for more recognition for women in aquatic sports. Faithful to his ideals, he always went the extra mile for what he believed to be right.

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