A. Gale 1926-48
B. Gale (aggregate) 1051-66:
Solo, Figures & Strokes
C. Closed & Open 1967-74:
Aggregate: Solo & Figures
D. Duet Champions
E. Team Champions
F. Interprovincial - Senior & Junior
III Junior Canadian Champions 102
A. Figures & Solo 1967-74:
B. Duet & Team 21969-74
IV The Association Presidents 104
“Last but not least” - Standard Brands
The sponsors of this book -
Our thanks to them.
P R E F A C E
At long last - a history of synchronized swimming in Canada has been published. It is not complete. There are many gaps - the greatest of which is the history of the early years of Ontario. What is here in written form is the result of many people contributing voluntarily their time and energy and skill. The editor wishes to express her grateful thanks to all who spent time, not only seeking out the material, but offering their recollections of events and happenings. Unfortunately there is no way of being sure that everyone who wrote material for the histories of the Sections can be recognized in the following pages. For any omissions, the editor apologizes and would welcome suggestions for additions of names.
When serious thought was given to the project by the National Historian about eight years ago and the enormity of the task was realized, it was decided that each should be responsible for searching into the past and producing a written history of its own. The National Historian would be responsible for the national picture. The idea took a while to be implemented, but a target date for publishing was set at 1971. It was an impossible deadline to meet. So 1975 became the new deadline - an appropriate year as it is the 50th
Anniversary of the Gale Trophy Competition, and the 25th
Anniversary of the founding of the Association.
Although incomplete, part of the task has been well accomplished. At this point in time, the following pages reveal what the present historians of the Association see as its History. An exceptional amount of research has been done and there is much more that can and should be done soon.
The younger Sections have a comparatively shorter history of their competitive years as members of the Canadian Amateur Synchronized Swimming Association. The older Sections had great difficulty in tracing files and records, and finding the people who had been involved. All Sections had difficulty in finding specific information that could be well documented.
C A N A D A
C.A.S.S.A. HISTORIAN: Gladys Bean
Its History in Canada
Early years to 1950
If it hadn’t been for the Royal Life Saving Society, some very keen sportswomen in Montreal in 1923 and some girls who were RLSS award winners, strong athletes and interested in competition, perhaps synchronized swimming in Canada would have developed differently.
The Royal Life Saving Society was founded in England in 1891, but it was not until the early 1900's that women were taking the RLSS tests. At that period in time there were probably not encouraged to do so. The RLSS held competitions in life saving to encourage participants and award winners to improve their skill, therefore, it is not surprising that other skills required in the RLSS awards were used as a basis for competition.
The RLSS was founded first in Canada in Quebec and Ontario in 1909 and the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association (CASA) in Quebec in 1909. After the first World War 1914-18, there was a great upsurge in all phases of swimming.
In the “1962 Dominion Championship Pogramme” we find in the History of Synchronized Swimming of Canada
, compiled by Joan Allan and Peg Seller -
“The birth of synchronized swimming in Canada is traced back to the tricks that formed part of the qualifications for Royal Life Saving diplomas.
The first competition was held in 1923 in Montreal. YWCA sponsors Mrs Colin Lockerby and Mrs. J. Clarke, organized this contest (in strokes and tricks) to provide a competitive and creative outlet for girls who were not attracted by speed swimming.”
Rules were then drawn up, approved by the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association and in 1924 the province of Quebec was the first to hold a Provincial Championship in ‘Ornamental’ (Scientific) swimming at the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association pool in Montreal. Margaret Shearer (Mrs. Peg Seller after 1931), who won the Provincial Championship in 1924 and 1925, proceeded to win the newly established Dominion Championship in 1926 for which the Gale Trophy was presented.
Mrs. Frances C. Gale was a great promotor of swimming and the CASA, under whose auspices the competitions were held, accepted her offer of a trophy with pleasure. It was to be for Dominion championship competition and inscribed on the trophy is the following: -
Frances C. Gale Trophy
Annual Competition by ladies in
Graceful and Scientific Swimming
According to any information the writer has been able to acquire, this 1926 competition held in the MAAA in Montreal was the first Official National Championship for the performance of figures and strokes in the world.
As indicated in more detail in the Chapter on Quebec’s history later, the original rules called for the competitor to perform five compulsory strokes - propeller, sculling, breast stroke, inverted breast stroke and side stroke - and a voluntary event, which consisted of five (figures) tricks chosen from the RLSS handbook.
There were entries from Ottawa and Toronto in those first years. In 1927, the championship was held in Toronto. Miss Margaret Shearer won it again. She was an all round athlete, winning championships in diving, water polo and track. In 1928 again it was Margaret Shearer. The official costume in those early years for the performance of the figures (and strokes) was then, as now, a black bathing suit
, but with a difference - black tights and a black cap. Peg Seller tells us that this style was instituted because Annette Kellerman, performing in a water tank at Loews Theatre, wore black tights. The Canadian girls actually wore long black gym stockings sewn to their bathing suits. (Pretty difficult to do figures well - Ed.) Fortunately, this didn’t last as the
costume for competition. Peg Seller wore here suit again at the time of the 25th
anniversary of the Gale Trophy competition at the MAAA in Montreal in 1950. This time she wore black nylons with the suit and swam the same routine she had performed as an exhibitor in 1925.
The rules changed from time to time over the years. An Ornamental Swimming Committee in the CASA was established with the first Chairman being Peg (Shearer) Seller. The Gale Trophy changed hands several times between 1929 and 1935 with the Montrealers dominating. Then came the long reign of Connie Balmforth, another Montreal swimmer, who held the trophy from 1935-38 and again in 1940.
Quebec and Ontario were the only provinces really active in the 1920's, but the RLSS program was spreading to the other provinces - Manitoba, British Columbia, - for example. The programs in all types of swimming were strong. Quebec CASA began conducting competitions which included figures and strokes for style. Manitoba hosted the Gale Trophy competition in Winnipeg in 1933, which helped to spread the word.
In the thirties, more and more swim clubs were putting on displays of this new sport although it was still really in its infancy, and it was not until the 1940's that it began to be called synchronized swimming in Canada. For the Gale Trophy, the competitors performed the figures and strokes individually - ornamental and fancy swimming were the names being applied to this type. Certainly these skills formed the basis on which synchronized swimming was built. Swim shows included more and more music - sometimes used as a background, but often groups swan in time with the beat. It is generally agreed that the term synchronized swimming was first applied in public in 1934 by Norman Ross when he introduced a group of rhythmic swimmers to the audience in the Lagoon at the World’s Fair in Chicago. (Quoted from Marian Louise Stoerker’s Origin and Development of Synchronized Swimming in the United States
- The Aquatic Artist of IAAA Vol. XIV Number 12, p.4.) The girls performing at this show were coached by Katherine Curtis. The term became more popular in the 1940's and competitive synchronized swimming was instituted first for group routines. Everywhere in the swimming world people were looking for some form of competition other than speed swimming and diving.
Although some organized synchronized swimming routine championships had been held in the central region of the U.S.A., the first National Championships were held in 1946 - Junior Outdoor Team, Senior Outdoor Team and Senior Outdoor Duet. In 1947 championships were conducted by the A.A.U. of U.S. in Junior Outdoor Duet, Senior Indoor Duet and Junior Indoor Team. In 1950 - Senior Indoor and Outdoor Solo. In 1951 - Junior Indoor and Outdoor Solo.
It is interesting to note that in those early years up to 1956, Canadians entered and won the following U.S. Championships:
Junior Indoor Duet:
1948 Jean Millard and Iris Rielley, Peterborough Ornamental S.C. Coach - Pansy Forbes
Senior Indoor Solo:
1950 June Taylor, St. Catherine’s Kia Ora S.C.
1951 June Taylor, University of Western Ont.
1952 June Taylor, St. Catherine’s Kia Ora S.C.
1953 June Taylor, Hollywood Athletic Club Coach - Billie MacKellar
At this time, Beulah Gundling was winning the Senior Outdoor Solo 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953, with June Taylor second each time.
Senior Outdoor Team:
1953 Peterborough Ornamental S.C.
Norma Gant (Douglas) was a member of the team.
Junior Outdoor Team:
1956 Kiwettes, St. Catherine’s
Many other Canadians have entered over the years, but the championships eluded them.
In Canada, routines did not become part of the National Championships until 1948, when a swimmer entering the Gale had to perform a routine (with or without music) in addition to the figures and strokes. In 1949, music was required and the Gale was won by the competitor with the highest aggregate for figures and routine. A new trophy was donated by Harold Daly of Winnipeg for strokes to the CASA and competed for first in 1949. As yet, no separate championship was awarded for solo. In 1949 also, the Forbes-Munro Trophy for duet routines was first held. In 1951 the Solo and Figures were separated into two championships. The Seller Trophy for Solo and Brennan for Figures were held in 1951. The Gale Trophy was awarded to the swimmer with the highest aggregate score for the figures, solo and strokes. The Herschorn Trophy for Team competition started in 1954.
During these years much discussion took place at each of the Annual Meetings. Unfortunately, we do not have copies of the minutes - all files seem to have been lost sometime following the office of Peg Seller as President of the ASSA of C. 1951 - 1953, when she turned them over to the new executive. The other disturbing thing that happened from an historian’s point is the following: - (no wonder there is difficulty in documenting information re the early years): Quote from Annual Minutes CASA - April 29-30, 1949 p.17
“On motion by Mr. Davey it was moved that all old records of the Association not necessary to the present function of the Association be destroyed. Seconded by Mr. Ellison.
Other items of interest in these minutes were: -
Synchronized Swimming for Olympic Program - It was reported by the Chairman that this was still under discussion. (Ed. note
: Peg Seller was Honorary Secretary and Chairman of Synchronized Swimming; Jean Morvat, a Gale Trophy Champion, Asst. Secretary for 1948-49 and both re-elected for 1949-50.)
Score sheets as presented by Mrs. Seller for the Gale
, Forbes-Munro and Daly Trophies were accepted.
Quebec was awarded the Synchronized Swimming Championship for 1950.
Judges for the Synchronized Swimming Championship in 1949 to be held in Toronto June 3 & 4 were approved. Mrs. Seller of Montreal, Chief Judge; Mrs. H. Habbard of Detroit and Miss Grace Marshall of Toronto, Judges; and Mr. Fred Jennings, Peterborough, Referee.
Mention of the progress being made in synchronized swimming in their Sections was made by several presidents; Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
Synchronized Swimming Chairman’s Report - Peg Seller.
International Clinic at Peterborough, Jan. 31, 1949
Long awaited brochure was now in print.
Canadians entering U.S. Championship.
American girl entered 1948 Championship
Co-chairman - Mrs. Sharpe.
Copy of brief presented by Harold Daly, Delegate from Canada to FINA Congress 1948. (Ed. note
: Not too many people are aware of this presentation made by Canada in 1950 promoting a “free” routine for FINA rules. Mr. Daly was also Manager of the CASA team to the Olympics 1948).
There was much activity in several parts of the country in the late 1940's and there were a lot of ideas about how Canadian Synchronized Championships should be organized. The universities played their part, and it seems appropriate to include this contribution here.
The universities played their part in the development of rules for competition in the late 1940's. In the east, swimming coaches of the Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Union set up events in synchronized swimming as one part of their three-way championship meet, the other two being speed and diving.
During the war years, 1939-45, all Intercollegiate competition had been suspended in Ontario - Quebec, except for telegraphic meets in archery and speed swimming. In 1946, the first post-war Intercollegiate swimming meet was held in the Hart House pool in Toronto. There were swimming and diving events
, also strokes for style and the plunge. The rules for the latter two events were as required by the RLSS. There were entries from McGill and Queen’s Universities, University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario. It is to be noted that in the chapter in Alberta’s history, a competition in ornamental skills was held as part of the 1946 Western Canada intervarsity swim meet (the pendulum was the figure that was remembered as one of the requirements).
There followed several years of experimentation. Duet and team routines were being performed in competition in the United States. The Canadian Synchronized Swimming Committee was working on adding routines to music to Canadian championship competition. So naturally the intercollegiate coaches were interested in adding routing competition to strokes and figures events. Billie MacKellar at Western Ontario and Gladys Bean at McGill were two of the coaches at that time.
Rules for solo and duet routines were drawn up following the U.S. idea of requiring some stunts to be performed and having the competitor submit a written listing of all strokes and figures in the routine. The mark given by judges was then multiplied by the average degree of difficulty of the routine for the final score. By 1950, the routine was made “free” - no required figures. However, entries into the routine events were required to enter the figures event.
At this same time, the girls at the University of British Columbia (U.B.C.) were interested in competition. In 1949 U.B.C. sponsored the B.C. Ornamental Swimming Championship. The judges were from the Physical Education staff - among them May Brown, Jean Carmichael. In 1950, they again sponsored the championship and there were entries from University of Alberta.
Over the years some of the intercollegiate synchronized swimmers have entered Canadian national competition. One sees in the files entries from McGill, University of Toronto, Queen’s, University of Western Ontario, University of Saskatchewan, University of Alberta. Some of the names were Pauline McCullogh, Joan Orser, June and Gale Taylor, Maureen Bray, Loretta O’Neill, Gerry Dubrule, Diane Johnson (Black), Joyce Luke (Coffin). Some won Canadian Championships, all gave creditable performances.
The contribution of the universities is described in more detail in the chapters that follow, particularly in the beginnings of the Newfoundland program. It is important to note that not only in the competition area was their influence felt. Many girls became interested in the sport at university, some entered competition at the provincial level, some at the local level. Many swam in Water Shows, organized shows and competitions, learned to judge and coach. When the first Canada Games were held in 1967, several provinces relied on Physical Education graduates in their province to produce a team, although synchronized swimming was only a neophyte sport at the time.
At the beginning, in the Ontario-Quebec Intercollegiate League at least, much experimenting with rules took place. Having been part of it and also very involved with the Synchronized Swimming association, the author is aware of the discussions that took place to change the rules group of universities were able to change more rapidly than Canada ever could. Now the university competitions follow CASSA rules.
The 1950's on -
In Appendix IV can be found a copy of minutes out of two meetings - First Annual Meeting of amateur Synchronized Swimming Association of Canada, June 5, 1950 in Montreal and from Annual Minutes of the CASA Meeting, August 1950. Also a list of Presidents to 1974.
The Association, separate from the CASA, was on its way, however it still remained “under the jurisdiction of the CASA” which Association represented Canada at FINA.
Only clubs from Quebec and Ontario were represented at the annual Meetings 1950 and 1051. However, in 1952 there were competitors from Manitoba and B.C. who represented their clubs.
As for a Section being organized and joining the National is concerned - In 1950 - The Quebec Fancy Swimming Association (formed in 1983) joined and became the Quebec Section of the ASSA of C.
Ontario joined as a Section.
Manitoba organized and joined as a Section.
1952 British Columbia organized.
1957 Alberta gave Section report at Annual.
1965 Saskatchewan held its organizational meeting in July.
1966 New Brunswick organized as a Section, December.
1968 Nova Scotia Section’s first meeting July 23.
1969 Newfoundland organized in May.
1971 Prince Edward Island became a Section with two clubs.
Although the name of the sport changed over the years - Graceful and Scientific, Ornamental, Figure - in 1994 in February at the Peterborough International Clinic, the Canadians met together and unanimously recommended that the sport be called synchronized swimming officially. This recommendation was accepted by the CASA.
Through the 1950's, the number of people involved and the number of competitors increased. There still was the problem of finances however; it was a long way from Quebec to B.C. and from B.C. to Quebec for Championships and for the President who, most of the time, paid her own to accomplish more than they seemingly could, and they did it . Canadian swimmers entered some of the U.S. Championships. Min Hendrick of the Niagara Falls Recreation Department ser up a Canadian-American International Invitational Synchronized Meet starting in 1953. Peg Seller’s Brochure was being asked for not only by Canadians but from all parts of the world. This Brochure had been printed through the generosity of Mr. Rowe of Ottawa. In 1953, Peg Seller was invited to give clinics in England. She and the Gundlings travelled there with Beulah exhibiting routines. FINA rules as proposed earlier were accepted in 1953 and in that same year, Peg Seller, having fulfilled the term of office of three years allowed by the ASSA of C., retired and Marge Sharpe became President.
Canadian rules for routines developed differently from the U.S. ones, which required that five listed stunts be included. Canada’s routines were “free” and it was this same rule that was accepted by FINA. 1953 saw the Peterborough Ornamental S.C. large team win the U.S. Outdoor Team title. Routines were developed to express an idea or theme and for the next fifteen years there was great discussion as to whether of not this was veering too much to an art rather than a sport.
On the international sports level, to mention a few Canada and the U.S. gave exhibitions of synchronized swimming at the Olympics - Marforie Bradshaw Cochand at the 1948 Olympics in London, Joan Orser at Helsinki in 1952. Great fund raising went on for those trips. Peterborough O.S.C. toured Britain in 1959.
In the Pan-American Games - Demonstrations by Canada and the U.S. were given at Buenos Aires in 1951. Both Peg Seller and Mary Desrosier of the U.S. worked very hard to get synchronized swimming into these Games. They ere successful. In 1955 it was included and three nations competed - Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.A. - in solo, duet and team. Canada’s best showing in solo was Giselle Poulin (Quebec YWCA) who placed 5th
In1959, not enough nations had wished to enter synchronized swimming (five were needed) so there were demonstrations only given in Chicago. Suzanne Eon and her team were there.
Synchronized swimming was reinstated for the fourth Pan-Am games in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1963. Canada, U.S.A., Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela participated. Suzanne Eon, Sandra Marks and Marilyn Malenfant represented Canada. Sandra received the highest marks for the solo, but the U.S.. entrants managed to edge her out by performing better in the figures. Sandra did win a bronze medal however, and Marilyn came 4th
. They placed 3rd
in the Duet.
Unfortunately, synchronized swimming was dropped again in 1967 due to an insufficient number of countries being interested. So, in Winnipeg, Cinde Stevens
, Canadian Champion was invited to give a demonstration.
In the FINA Gala following the Olympics in Mexico City in 1968, Cinde Stevens and her partner, Karen Rasmussen, performed their Championship duet. They were invited to performa at the Gala because of Cinde’s good showing at the first rally International Meet in San Francisco in October, 1967 - the ‘Golden Gate Solo Invitational.’ Cinde placed 2nd. This was an extremely important event. Seven countries were represented (U.S.A., Canada, West Germany, Holland, England, Japan, and Mexico). Important FINA meetings were held.
At the Sixth Pan-Am Championships in Cali, Columbia, synchronized swimming was held, although only four countries had entered (Mexico, Canada, U.S.A. and Columbia). Canada’s team was composed of Jo Jo Carrier and Mado Ramsay - duet; Jo Jo - solo; and a combination team of six Calgary ‘y’ and two Quebec ‘Y’ girls. Suzanne Eon was coach of solo and duet, Mary Ann Reeves coached the team.
Unfortunately there is no synchro at the Pan-Ams in 1975.
Other international events followed:-
Hollyburn C.C. - Team
Coach - Goan Nagle and Manager - Donalda Smith.
See Appendix 1 - “Canada Sweep Silver”.
Team - Quebec YWCA.
The Star program, basically for swimmers not initially in competition or for beginners in the sport, was instituted by B.C. in 1963, which became a National program and by 1970 was in all provinces.
In 1968, after the Canadian Senior Championships in Montreal, the CBC produced a promotional film on synchro to be shown in theatres across the world, and made loop films for instruction. The champions from that year were the swimmers, Guerry Dubrule was Technical Advisor. Unfortunately, the loops were not available until January 1970, too late for wide use to be made of them. The promotional film was taken by the writer to the Congress of the International Association of Physical Education and Sports for Girls and Women, Tokyo 1969 and shown to the delegates. At that same Congress, Cladys Bean gave a lecture while Pauline McCullagh and Gerry Dubrule demonstrated synchronized swimming in the water.
The Canada Games have certainly helped increase participation in synchronized. the first games in Quebec City in 1967 saw Marilyn Malenfant, the Quebec Solo champion, chosen to light the flame and to represent all athletes by reciting the Gamesman’s pledge. the second games were held in Saskatchewan in 1971 and the third in Lethbridge 1975. These games soon produced government support in the provinces (in some more than others) and now there are provincial grants to encourage participation from a wider area.
No doubt the fact that Junior Canadian Championships were conducted from 1967 on, caused the calibre of swimming at the Senior Level to rise and were instrumental in Canada ranking better internationally.
Not only has Sports Canada supported the Association, but Standard Brands and their program have contributed a great deal to Amateur Aquatics. The O’keefe support of the Coaching Development and Certification Program with the appointment of Pauline McCullogh as Coaching Co-ordinator has helped immeasurably. The Grants-in-Aid Program for athletics was instituted by the Department of National Health and Welfare. More athletes have been able to stay in competition longer because of the program.
After Joan Allen, Donalda Smith took over in 1966 the position of Technical Chairman, then Gladys Hambrook in 1971. Donalda is representative to the FINA synchronized Swimming Committee and is their Secretary.
Synchronized Swimming was recognized when Peg Seller was elected to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (Toronto) in 1966 and to Aquatic Hall of Fame (Winnipeg) in 1968 for Distinguished Service - the first person so honoured.
Swimming and female participants were included in Quebec programs in diving, water polo and racing in the early years of the 1900's. the Royal Life Saving Society was established in the Province in 1909. This same year, many of the same associates formed the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association - Chris Golden, Hy Herschorn and Roy Ashworth.
This was a good stimulus to the up and coming swimmers who were close to the many synchronized programs in the city. As an item of interest the duos and trios cold be co-educational (boys participated too).