top of page

Since the day she took her kids to sign-up for swimming lessons back in the early 1970s, to the present day, this outstanding volunteer has served the sport of swimming in a number of capacities. Starting out with the YMCA and moving into the Thunderbolt swim program, she spent time as a part-time coach before focusing on her quest to develop into a well trained swim official and pass her knowledge on to others.

Advancing up through the various certification levels of the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association, known today as Swim Canada, in 1974 she became the first female in Ontario to earn her Master Official status. With a goal to improve upon the lack of trained officials in northwestern Ontario, she began travelling throughout the region presenting clinics and certifying officials.

A member of Swim Ontario's Officials Committee from 1974 to 2000, she spent a decade as the Officials Chairperson on the organizations' board and helped develop training programs and protocols for officials, some of which remain in use today.

Serving as Vice-Chairperson and Meet Manager for the 1981 Canada Summer Games held in Thunder Bay, she took on the responsibility of training officials prior to the event and overseeing them during the national competition. Serving as Chair of Officials for Canada from 1984-87 she attended meets throughout the country, including the 1985 Canada Summer Games. Travelling internationally, she served as an official at the 1985 US Open Nationals, 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland and the 1987 and '91 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.

For her exceptional contributions to officiating she became the first recipient of the Elizabeth Collins Ralph Trophy as Swim Ontario's 1986 Official of the Year, and in 2017 was inducted into the Ontario Aquatic Hall of Fame.

Considered the 'guru of officiating' by the swimming community, the legacy of this outstanding builder is the number of trained officials who benefitted from her knowledge over the years and the inspiration she gave to others to advance up through the national and international officiating ranks.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 30th, 2017

Irene MacLeay

bottom of page