When this future Olympian walked across the back lane to go swimming at the Port Arthur YMCA, little did he know that in a few short years he would be competing against the best in the world. In the early 1970s, with the formation of the Thunder Bay Thunderbolts, Andy moved into a competitive training program which would see him go on to enjoy an exceptional swimming career.

Putting in strong performances and setting numerous provincial age group records, Andy was named a National Swim Team member in 1975, a position he would hold for five years. An Individual Medley and Breaststroke specialist in the 200m and 400m distances, he put in a multi-medal performance at the 1975 British National Championships. His second year on the National Team would present him with the opportunity to earn a berth on the 1976 Olympic Team.

Competing in the Olympic Trials in the 400m IM he put in an incredible performance with a dramatic charge in the free-style leg, touching the wall 9 seconds faster than his personal best and breaking the Canadian and Commonwealth records. The youngest in his field, at the age of only 17, and having never competed in a major international event like it before, Andy did exceptionally well at the Olympics, making it to the finals and putting in a 7th place performance.

With Top 10 World rankings to his credit, Andy earned a swimming scholarship to the University of Florida, going on to set numerous state records and receiving All-American ranking. In the summer of 1977 he again had the opportunity to represent his country with distinction competing at the FISU World Student Games in Sofia, Bulgaria. A member of the Lakehead University swim team from 1977-80, he was a dominant force in the pool setting numerous national records and claiming CIAU titles. His success earned him the Lakehead University Male Athlete of the Year honours in 1979-80.

Remaining involved in the sport in which he shone during the 1970s and 80s, Andy became a national record holder in 1995 with the Canadian Masters program, rounding out a successful swimming career which had begun close to 30 years before.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25, 1999

Andy Ritchie

Thunder Bay
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