Aquatics Canada Announces the 2023 Award Winners

Jan. 26, 2024

(Ottawa, ON, January 25, 2024) As the aquatic community eagerly anticipates another year of remarkable achievements, Aquatics Canada Aquatique is thrilled to unveil the winners of its prestigious annual awards. These accolades recognize outstanding contributions, unwavering dedications, and exceptional performances within the diverse realms of aquatics.

From swimming and diving to water polo and artistic swimming, these awards honor individuals, teams and organizations who have exemplified excellence, sportsmanship, and passion for aquatic sports. The recipients stand as shining examples of the talent and commitment that continue to propel Aquatics Canada forward on the international stage.

Join us in celebrating the achievements of these aquatic trailblazers as we announce the winner who have made an indelible mark on the aquatic landscape. Their stories inspire us all, service as a testament to the power of dedication and the pursuit of excellence in the world of aquatics.

Volunteer of the Year - Canadian Water Polo Hall of Fame Committee (Water Polo)
The Canadian Water Polo Hall of Fame was established in July 2020. The Hall of Fame Committee, which included David Hart, Christine Robinson, Mark Block, Marie-Claude Deslières, Bill Shaw, Noah Miller, and Marilyn Thorington, worked to develop induction criteria and vetted nominations ahead of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural induction ceremony in May 2022. The event was held in conjunction with Water Polo Canada’s National Championship League Gala in Calgary, Alberta and was a great success. The following year, the same group of individuals planned and hosted the second annual induction ceremony on the same weekend as National Provincial Championships in Montreal, Quebec, with outstanding support from local alumni.

Sport Executive of the Year - Andrew Muir (Water Polo)
Andrew Muir worked tirelessly this year to launch a new program call RISE. This program is a development program created to increase the skills, experience, knowledge and opportunities of young water polo players, coaches and officials in Canada. With two beta tests planned for 2023-24 now expanded to a total of 7 events in 2023-24 the program will see a RISE in skills and attract a new generation of player. A complete program overview can be found here. Andrew was paramount to creating, driving and executing this unique and fundamental program in Canada.

Hall of Fame Nominee - Pat McCann (Artistic Swimming) and Gaétan Turcotte (Water Polo)
Pat McCann recently retired as an official with Artistic Swimming in which she has been actively involved in for over 30 years. Her various capacities over the years included officiating at national and international events, Canada Artistic Swimming board member, and various committees. Pat recently retired as a level IV judge and referee. She currently holds the position of President of the board of directors of Ontario Artistic Swimming.

Gaétan Turcotte competed on Canada’s water polo team at the Pan Am Games (1975), the World Championships (1975 and 1979) and the Montreal Olympic Games (1976). He went on to coach in Newfoundland, Manitoba and Australia, and his brilliant career as an international water polo official culminated in refereeing the men’s gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Gaétan also served as one of Canada’s delegates on the PanAm Aquatics (then known as UANA) Technical Water Polo Committee from 2020-2022. Sadly, Gaétan passed away in the spring of 2022 at the age of 67.

Male Athlete of the Year - Nathan Zsombor-Murray (Diving)
Nathan won two national titles on 10m, three World Aquatics World Cup medals (1 bronze 10m individual in Montréal, 2 Team event medals in Montréal and Berlin) and two silver medals at the 19th Pan Am Games (10m individual and 10m sychronized medal). Nathan also qualified a quota spot for Canada by making the final at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka. Frequently the first to dive into training and often the last to emerge from the pool, Zsombor-Murray’s commitment is unwavering.

Female Athlete of the Year - Summer McIntosh (Swimming)
For the second year in a row Summer has been chosen the Female Athlete of the Year in Aquatics. She accomplished the following results at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships Fukuoka;

GOLD - Women’s 200m Butterfly - World Junior Record + Americas Record
GOLD - Women’s 400m Individual Medley - Championship Record
Bronze - Women’s 200m Freestyle - World Junior Record
Bronze - Women’s 4 X 100m Freestyle

She was also named the Canadian Press Athlete of the Year for 2023.

Team of the Year - Pamela Ware and Mia Vallée (Diving)
Mia and Pamela have had quite a year in 3m synchronized. At the Montreal World Cup, in their first competition as a team, they won the bronze medal. They were on the podium again at the Berlin World Cup, this time on the second step. At the 19th Pan American Games in Santiago, they also won silver in the 3m synchronized event.

Above and beyond their performances, the two divers supported each other through the ups and downs of the season and developed an extraordinary bond.

Coach of the Year - Tong Hui (Diving)
This season, Tong Hui was the key player in Pamela Ware’s spectacular comeback. He capitalized on his athlete’s strengths and found the right words to support her and lead her to the best season of her long career. She finished 2023 with five World Cup medals as well as an individual medal at the World Championships. Tong helped Pamela finish of 2023 with three medals in three events at the 19th Pan-American Games, including two golds: what a year for Pamela and Tong!

Officials Award of Excellence - Jessica Lamontagne (Artistic Swimming)
Jessica took on her role as a Judge with Artistic Swimming full force in 2023. Officiating at Markham World Cup with new scoring system, technical controller at Central American Games, contributed to the new Canada Artistic Swimming exam for domestic judges, work with Natation Artistique Quebec in conducting Tech controller training, assistance in Canada Artistic Swimming team selection, and a Member of the National Officials Committee. Because of all her time in 2023 Artistic Swimming events and committees completed the year with exceptional results.

Media of the Year Award - Stephane Cote (Artistic Swimming)
As Chief Marketing Officer for Canada Artistic Swimming, Stéphane built interest and coverage of the sport specifically the Markham World Cup in March 2023 with several media outlets publishing multiple articles. As media attaché for the Canadian Olympic Committee, Stephane worked for all 4 aquatic sports at 2023 the 19th Pan Am Games and generated many feature articles and interviews for swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming.

Sport Tourism Award - Destination Markham and City of Markham - Artistic Swimming World Cup Markham 2023 (Nominated by Artistic Swimming)
The Markham World Cup for Artistic Swimming in March 2023 attracted hundreds of competitors and thousands of fans. The event received a rating of “excellent” from the participants and five stars from spectators. With more than 40% of spectators having never seen an artistic swimming event before, Markham achieved more than 90% stating they will see the event again. It generated an economic impact as measured by Sport Tourism of $1 million for the city of Markham and $1.7 million for the country.

About Aquatics Canada Aquatiques
Aquatics Canada Aquatique (“ACA”) is an excellence-driven organization, driving and encouraging elite performance by Canadian swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming athletes and the participation of Canadian coaches, officials and administrators internationally.

The role of ACA is to advocate for and represent the Canadian aquatic sports to its national and international sport partners, primarily World Aquatics (“AQUA”), PanAm Aquatics (“PAQ”) and the Canadian Olympic Committee (“COC”). In this role, ACA supports Canadian aquatics teams at international FINA and PanAm Aquatics accredited competitions and championships and represents the sports’ interests at international conventions and other gatherings. ACA also works to promote the growth and awareness of, and encourage support for, the aquatic sports in Canada, working with the national sport organizations (“NSOs”) and, at their direction, with government, other sport bodies, funding partners, communities, and the public-at-large in general.

ACA upholds and demonstrates the values of its member NSOs and those of the Canadian Olympic Committee (“COC), reflecting the view that the life skills and experience obtained through athletic preparation, competition and teamwork are far more valuable than any medal. These values empower individuals to lead, achieve and leave a legacy of giving back to their sport and the community.

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