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Water Polo Canada Community remembers Olympian Patrick ‘Rick’ Pugliese

(September 10, 2020 – Montreal, QC) – Water Polo Canada (WPC) and the entire water polo community were saddened to hear the passing of Double Olympian Patrick "Rick" Pugliese (1952-2020) last month. An important figure in the Hamilton water polo community, Rick Pugliese, competed on the Canadian Men's National Team from 1969 to 1976 playing in approximately 150 international matches. He represented Canada at the 1972 Munich and 1976 Montreal Olympic Games; he competed at the 1971 and 1975 Pan American Games and the 1975 World Aquatic Championships.

"The Canadian water polo community has lost one of its great players. All the testimonies go in the same direction; Rick was an exceptional individual and athlete. His positivism and his way of seeing life marked many people, and he leaves an important legacy. On behalf of Water Polo Canada, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Rick Pugliese," said Conrad Hadubiak, President of Water Polo Canada.

Rick Pugliese began his career as a swimmer in 1961 under the legendary Jimmy Thompson (1928 Olympic swimming medalist) at the municipal swimming pool with the Hamilton Aquatic Club (HAC). A talented swimmer, he set a Canadian record in 1965 with his medley swimming relay team for HAC along with former national team players, David Hart and George Steplock, and Craig Nesbitt. He switched his emphasis to water polo around 1967 and began competing with the HAC water polo team under the leadership of coach and WPC alumni Robert Thompson.

"Rick was one of the most beloved Canadian water polo personalities of his era. I am truly honoured to have been associated with such a dear friend for sixty years. We passed through so many stages of life and met so many challenges as close friends and teammates; it's impossible for me to imagine he is gone. Wherever Rick's spirit is now, that place is a happy one," mentioned long-time friend and WPC Alumni, David Hart.

A top athlete, Pugliese competed for Cathedral High School in Hamilton in both water polo and football. At the National level, he was part of the great era with HAC, winning 10 Canadian titles (9 Senior Men and 1 Junior

Men) from 1969 to 1981. Known for his leadership and positivity, Rick was the captain of the Hamilton teams from 1977 to 1981, and he was named the most valuable player at the 1980 Senior Men's Nationals. He also won 4 OUAA water polo championships from 1971 to 1974 with the McMaster University Men's team.

Several former teammates and members of the water polo community have been keen to honour Rick's memory, including WPC Olympian Robert Thompson, former coach at HAC and teammate during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. "Ricky was one of Water Polo Canada's most respected players. He was always there to help his Hamilton and National Team teammates. People from Hamilton, from all across Canada and his opponents from water polo nations around the world, will remember Rick for his big smile, his jokes and his positive outlook in both good times and in bad," commented Robert Thompson.

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