Growing up in Atikokan, Tom Hainey did not let the fact that he had spina bifida stand in his way, joining the Nakokita Swim Club at the age of 11. It did not take Tom long to rise to the top of his field, going on to enjoy one of the most successful swimming careers of any athlete from northwestern Ontario.
In 1979, Tom became the first 13 year old to qualify for the Ontario Games for the Physically Disabled, competing successfully for 2 Gold, a silver and a bronze medal, and setting a Canadian record. At his first Canadian championship, the National Wheelchair Games, he returned home with an incredible 5 gold medals and three Canadian records. A member of Canada's National Swim Team for eleven years, Tom dominated his class both nationally and internationally.
Tom's record of success in Pan-American Games for the Physically Disabled events (1982 & 1986) included 4 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals. A regular competitor at the Stoke-Mandeville Games for the Physically Disabled, Tom claimed an incredible 14 gold medals and set 5 world records between 1986 and 1989. At the World Games for the Physically Disabled in 1986, Tom won 3 gold a silver and a bronze medal and qualified to swim the 200m Individual Medley in demonstration at the World Aquatic Championships where he finished 6th.
A three time Olympian, Tom garnered 4 gold and a silver medal at 1984 Olympic Games for the Physically Disabled, setting world records in the process. In March of 1988, Tom suffered a serious accident, but through intensive training he was able to compete at the Paralympic Games in Seoul in October of that year where he claimed 4 silver medals. Another trip to the Paralympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 and a fifth place showing in the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria rounded out Tom's illustrious career.
In 1993, Tom undertook a three day, 97 kilometre swim through Quetico Park to honour the memory of his late mother Sheila, a source of inspiration in his ability to overcome barriers. Following his competitive career, Tom became the head coach of the Nakokita Swim Club in Atikokan and most recently was appointed a position at the national training centre in Winnipeg. In 1996 Tom gained entry into the Ontario Aquatic Hall of Fame.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 27, 1997